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Studies Show Playing the Piano Can Lead to Unique Neurological Developments

Studies have shown that piano lessons at a young age can actually impact our brains and change the way it learns. A piano player’s brain can actually be pretty different from a non-musical brain. Now, there are differences between piano versus drums or guitar - drums are functionally pitches and a-chordal, which means that selecting a pitch or trying to figure out chord phrasing isn’t really something a drummer has to do most of the time. Guitars players will have to deal with pitch and chords, but they only allow six notes at once and one hand’s dexterity matters much more than the other.

Piano just may be the most demanding and skill-oriented instrument due to having to playing together (up to ten notes) simultaneously across the 88 keys. To do that, pianists often have to develop a unique ambidextrous brain capacity. Both hands are required to be equally active for the master pianist, which means that they have to overcome their inner right-handedness or left-handedness. They have to re-wire their brain.

The central sulcus is a groove on the surface of the brain. In most people, the brain’s central sulcus is deeper on either their right or left side, which then determines which hand is dominant in that person. But pianists are different: their central sulcus is far more symmetrical, meaning their brains barely register whether their brains are born left or right-handed compared to most people. Scientists say this is because pianists are able to strengthen their weaker side of the brain to more closely match their dominant side.

Scientists have also shown that when jazz pianists play, their brains have an extremely efficient connection between the different parts of their frontal lobe compared to non-musicians. The frontal lobe is responsible for integrating information into our decision-making. It plays a large role in problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior. This means that pianists can integrate more of the brain’s information into making efficient decisions in other aspects of life. They can quickly tap into spontaneous creativity as opposed to slower and more methodical thinking.

Not only that, but when experienced pianists are playing, they literally switch off the parts of the brain that is associated with stereotypical responses - basically providing a response using their own voice and subconscious instead of one that is influenced by others. Pianos help bring out what makes us unique.

However, it must be mentioned that piano is a taxing and complex instrument. Real pianists have brains that efficiently conserve energy by allocating resources more effectively than others. Scientists have found that pianist’s brains pump less blood than average people into their brain region associated with motor skills. That means less energy and blood flow is needed by them to concentrate on actually playing the keys, and their brain can then use that energy to come up with notes and riffs. When pianists improvise, the language parts of their brain remains active. And studies have shown that when they solo, their brains respond as if they were in a conversation, but with paying attention to phrases and musical structure instead of specific words or phrases.

So pianists brains master creative, purposeful and efficient communication because of the instrument they play. If you can become an expert on the piano, your brain can actually become different than other people’s. You will be naturally efficient at multitasking because at a high level, you will learn how to remove yourself from doubt and hesitation.

Related Reading: 9 Unexpected Benefits of Playing Piano

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