Piano and the Brain: Increased Cognitive Flexibilty

From “Music Making as a Tool for Promoting Brain Plasticity Across the Life Span” at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996135

I’ve had a couple older students ask a valid concern prior to starting lessons: “Am I too old? Can I still learn?” The answer is absolutely, and this is why.

While formerly scientists believed the brain was kind of stuck after development, newer research shows if used, the brain stays flexible throughout life. Musicians who continue to use their skills at 60 years old keep their normal increase in grey matter. Those of us who haven’t played since we were five still reap benefits: people aged 60-85 with little to no musical training showed improvements in cognitive function (memory, motor skills, speed) after 6 months of standard half-hour lessons with at least three hours of practice a week. Isn’t such an enjoyable activity worth it to keep wits around? Also, although many mental activities can stretch one’s brain, music proves more beneficial as it incorporates so many functions at once.

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