Last month, Dr. William Klemm (a fellow PT blogger) published an article that beautifully summarized recent research on music training and brain development (Click here to read his article).
Dr. Klemm's major points include:
- Music training benefits not just auditory processing skills, but speech, language, and emotional areas as well.
- Musicians are better able to remember information from conversations and can learn new languages more easily because of our enhanced auditory processing abilities.
- Music training challenges our working memory load, which potentially raises our IQ (relative to if we weren't musicians)
- Several studies have hinted that music training in children may improve their auditory, motor, and reading abilities. This is especially true if training begins before age 7.
And--this is my favorite--Dr. Klemm quotes Northwestern neuroscientist Nina Kraus as saying "music training does for (the) brain what exercise does for body fitness." (Kind of fits with my suggestion that music therapists are like personal trainers, doesn't it?)
Dr. Klemm's article supported the importance of music education for our children. And I agree whole-heartedly--I strongly feel that one of the best things we can do for our children's brains and their development is to teach them music.
But something's missing. Music training isn't just for our children. In fact, music can play an immensely important role for adults, too.
One of the best ways to keep your mind young and engaged is to challenge your working memory skills. And what's a good way to do that? Learn a new skill.
Like playing an instrument.
Sure, you likey won't fulfill your childhood dream of becoming a concert pianist, but there are a multitude of other benefits. You can:
- improve your fine motor control and dexterity
- increase your gross motor range-of-motion and strength
- challenge (and improve) your working memory capabilities
- increase the number of opportunities for social involvement (e.g. church choir, community ensembles)
- keep your auditory processing (and your "ears") sharp
- increase your cardiovascular health (if playing a wind instrument)
Thus, learning an instrument doesn't solely benefit the youngsters in our society. It can benefit out elders, too.
Follow me on Twitter @KimberlySMoore for daily updates on the latest research and articles related to music, music therapy, and music and the brain. I invite you also to check out my website, www.MusicTherapyMaven.com, for additional information, resources, and strategies.