5 Cognitive Benefits Of Music Training

cognitive benefits music training

Not many people know this, but the power of music training can prove to be all-encompassing, and it can have numerous cognitive benefits for anyone choosing to indulge in it. The cognitive benefits of music training can help you experience many major positive changes in your mind and body.

For many, music study is intrinsically rewarding, and music learning is an end in itself. However, active engagement with music has enduring cognitive benefits, such as concentration, memory, self-discipline, and confidence (Rentfrow & Levitin, 2019). The cognitive benefits of music education extend from early childhood to old age.

Here Are 5 Cognitive Benefits Of Music Training

1. Concentration

Formal music practice involves several cognitively challenging elements (e.g., long periods of controlled attention, keeping musical passages in working memory). For example, a study showed that increased reliance upon sustained attention was attributed to boosts in working memory in persons over 60 who received piano training (six months) compared to those who did not receive piano training (Lesiuk et al., 2018).

Related: The Healing Power of Music: How Music Therapy Improves Mental Health

2. Self-Discipline

Music training enhances impulse control. Impulse control is saying no to that third alcoholic drink or eating healthy foods even though the unhealthy ones are tempting. People high on a measure of self-control have better outcomes in various aspects of life (e.g., academic, coping skills, and meaningful relationships with others).

Evidence shows that musical training is a powerful intervention that could help children mature emotionally and intellectually. A research study (Fasano et al., 2019) showed that even an intense and brief period of orchestral music training (10 lessons over three months) had a positive impact on inhibitory control in school-age children.

3. Empathy

Empathy enables people to recognize the emotional and mental states of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions. During music listening and performance, we perceive the emotional and psychological content in music. Listening to music that contains reflective, thoughtful, and gentle attributes may increase empathy and improve reflective functioning (Greenberg et al., 2016).

Related: Music Therapy for depression – how can it heal you?

4. Self-Esteem

Learning an instrument is one of the best ways to build one’s confidence, and high self-confidence is associated with a positive self-image. And when people’s self-esteem is enhanced, they are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle (Creech, 2019).

5. Protection Against Age-Related Decline

Neural plasticity is a biological foundation of the learning brain. New connections are made in our brains when we learn. Neural plasticity is what keeps us young.

The brain is like a block of clay that can be molded into its environment. And the brain is at its most plastic during the first few years of life. Fortunately, some of the neural plasticity is with us throughout our lifespans, even in our older years. Making music mostly as a leisure activity provides a buffer against cognitive impairment (Schneider et al. 2018).

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Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.

Shahram Heshmat is an associate professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Springfield with a Ph.D. in Managerial Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He specializes in the Health Economics of addiction and obesity, applying the insights and findings that emerge from behavioral economics research to the decision processes underlying addictive behavior, obesity, and weight loss management. His most recent book is Eating Behavior and Obesity: Behavioral Economics Strategies for Health Professionals. He is currently working on a new book, Addiction: A Behavioral Economics Perspective, to be published by Routledge/Psychology Press.View Author posts