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Why Learning to Play an Instrument Boosts the Brain




In a recent study in Chile, South America, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers found that learning an instrument is good for the brain, helping children with both memory and concentration while making them more creative and ultimately improving their quality of life. 

I suspect that many of us would not be too surprised to read this.  


How this research was carried out

Researchers tested the attention and working memory of forty children between the ages of 10 and 13. 

One group of twenty children played an instrument, had had at least two years of lessons, practised at least two hours a week and regularly played in an orchestra or ensemble.

The second group of twenty children had no musical training other than in the regular school day.

A series of tests were performed on each child.  their brain activity was recorded using "magnetic resonance imaging" to detect small changes in their blood flow.

The researchers found that two brain mechanisms worked better in children who regularly played an instrument.

One of the researchers, Dr Leonie Kausel (who is both a violinist and a neuroscientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile) commented: "Brain regions that are more active include a working memory system involved in auditory processing, establish auditory-motor connections, and tonal and verbal auditory working memory."


Keeping up the habit of handwriting in children is important too!

We have written before about the importance of keeping up the habit of handwriting in children - for similar benefits.

For younger children, handwriting activates the brain more than using a key board - and this is because it involves more complex motor and cognitive skills.

So parents, teachers - and those at the forefront of having a say at what goes on in the classroom - should not be too hasty in dismissing handwriting (whether left handed or right handed) in favor of technology completely taking its place.