Have you ever listened to your favorite song while driving down the highway with the windows open and felt unstoppable? Do you find yourself singing or humming a tune at times during your daily routine while completing tasks? Have you ever started playing your instrument and lost track of time in a state of energized focus?
Most all of us have experienced a state of mind similar to at least one of the above occurrences. So what does this mean for our lives? Well, there is actually a good reason for why we are able to reach these states of focused "flow" when engaged in music: Technically speaking, music is jet fuel for your brain.
When listening or playing music, brain function is significantly expanded by way of enabling other sections of the brain involving creativity and emotional response. Specifically in children, music has the ability to improve motor and speech skills in conjunction with learning pitch and rhythm recognition. Based on the science, it is not much of a surprise that when they grow to high school age, students regularly involved in a music activity score on the SAT an average of 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math than students with no music participation (1).
When adults participate in musical activity, connections in the brain are forged that improve focus at work and provide an increased feeling of presence in family life. Lower psychological stress and lower heart attack rates are also found as a result of playing an instrument. Cognitive ability decreases with age for many people, but music has been shown to significantly offset this decline as well. Learn more: NAMM Foundation Article
So in light of these studies, why has participation in the arts significantly declined over the past couple of decades in our American schools? This is a subject to which there are varying opinions and arguments on the political end, but the end result is that we have collectively lost site of the incredible value that music has in impacting our lives. When we have a few moments of free time, many of us are now typically more concerned with flipping TV channels or playing on our smartphones for temporary enjoyment rather than engaging in a creative activity with a lasting impact. There are plenty of distractions that take our valuable time away from our creative development, however the good news is that with our current technology and accessibility, a musical connection is only a step away. All it takes is a starting point action to reconnect your brain with music in your local town by going to a live performance or picking up a musical instrument.
Best of luck in your music journey! Tell us what you think if you get a chance.
Check out a few more details here on a particular brain study in Finland: ScienceDaily Article
NPR article on the effects of musical training on motor and speech skills: Brain on Music Article
- written by Travis Palladino, founder & director of Music Flow LLC
(1) College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001