What Happens to Your Brain When Playing Piano

Watching a pianist playing piano can be a performance in and of itself: watching their hands fly across the keys effortlessly, seeing their eyes scan across the page automatically.

Playing piano is a difficult task that can require years of practice. At the same time, even just a little practice can have a major impact on the human brain.

The piano is an instrument that requires a lot of hand-eye coordination and attention to the music. When playing on stage or with others, a pianist also has to pay attention to how others are playing and where they fit in overall.

This whole experience provides a good challenge for a brain to learn and adapt to. Anyone can learn to play the piano and potentially benefit from the experience. Whether you want to be a concert pianist or just have a few tunes to play at your next party, you will find something useful from the experience.

If you’ve ever wondered about the benefits of music for you or your child, this article is for you. We are going to look at how the brain works while playing piano and how it can benefit from a little practice and experience.

The Musician’s Mind

Music is an expression of creativity. Songs and instruments can touch humans in a way that nothing else can. It connects to us on a physical, mental, and emotional level.

Listening to music alone can be influential, but to play an instrument is different altogether. Playing music is a multisensory experience. There’s a lot of information that is present during a typical song.

A musician has to learn to balance and multitask all of this information. They have the sounds of the instrument and the different pitches and tones that it can produce. There is also visual information with written music that musicians have to read.

In bands and large ensembles, musicians also have to pay attention to what others are doing. Sometimes, this group effect can even create shared emotions that musicians express.

Different areas of the brain are shaped by this kind of experience. Musicians have to use different areas that help them coordinate their muscles to play the instrument, read and listen to music, and creatively express themselves all at the same time.

This exercises many parts of the brain you normally don’t use.

 

Benefits Of Music On The Brain

Sound itself has certain effects on our brain that can be beneficial.

Certain sound frequencies can affect the neurochemicals in the brain. This means that different types of sounds and tones will affect your overall mood and perception.

If you’ve ever been in a bad mood, only to cheer yourself up with your favorite song, you’ve experienced this effect. Songs and instruments can change how we see the world at any given moment.

Playing music can also positively affect our brains. Because there’s so much information to process, the brain typically improves its multitasking capabilities.

Music therapy has even been used to help patients with Parkinson’s and other motor or sensory disabilities. Playing music can help strengthen the connections between neurons that process this kind of information.

 

Your Brain While Playing Piano

Playing piano, in particular, is a challenging experience for the brain. There’s a lot of information from the music and sounds the piano produces, as well as from the hands as they play.

Playing piano requires the use of both hands. Typically, the right-hand will carry the tune or melody of a song while the left-hand provides musical support.

Each half of the brain controls one hand. In order to use both at the same time, it has to have a strong bridge between the two halves. Practicing and playing piano regularly can strengthen this connection so the hands can effortlessly play together.

The brain also learns to prioritize certain information. This means that it can improve your concentration.

When playing, pianists can only focus on so much. Many will often focus on the melody while ignoring what the left hand or their feet are doing.

This forces the brain to rely more on muscle memory. Anytime the brain has to go on autopilot, it relies on the muscles and neurons that have trained through repetitive practice to act.

After enough time, this muscle memory becomes a natural habit. This allows the brain to focus on other things while the rest of the body does something else.

The Science Of Practicing

Even if you don’t expect to be a concert pianist in the next few years, just a little bit of practice can have many benefits on your brain as well.

Children will often benefit the most from playing piano because of the elasticity of their brains. Since their brains are still forming, they are more open to change.

If you are an adult learner, don’t be discouraged. Studies of shown that constant practice can also has noticeable changes on the brain’s physical matter.

In particular, constant practice tends to affect the hippocampus, a part in the brain that is involved with learning and memorisation activities. Through practice, the hippocampus develops more connections between its neurons. This allows it to process information more efficiently.

Ultimately, learning new tasks and remembering new information becomes quicker and easier.

 

The Piano And Children

A child’s brain is constantly learning about the new world they find themselves in. The younger a child is, the easier it is to learn new skills and ideas.

Learning to play the piano at a young age can significantly alter the child’s brain in many important ways. Learning to multitask and process different types of information can help prepare a child for more advanced challenges later on.

This can help a child’s learning, memorization, and testing skills in school. When they learn to recognize new patterns through music, they can apply the same skills to other school subjects. Playing piano will also teach them how to problem solve on the fly.

Physically, learning to play the piano can also help a child improve their hand-eye coordination. Site reading, in particular, is a great activity to teach children to use their hands and feet without looking. This teaches them how to scan across the page and translate that information into music.

Overall, children can learn many helpful skills they can apply into their adulthood. Even if they don’t expect to become a professional pianist, many of these skills can be used on the job, in school, and in their personal lives for their entire life.

Playing Piano And Aging

Playing piano for adults can help reverse the effects of aging. Typically, an aging brain starts to lose its function if it isn’t properly challenged and stimulated over the years.

Just like anything else, the brain is susceptible to degradation. Like a muscle, if it’s not used and exercised regularly, it will begin to fail.

This can lead to many issues such as short and long-term memory loss, loss of motor skills, and specific neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Learning to play the piano, especially if you don’t have any experience, presents a new challenge for the brain to tackle. It will learn to overcome this challenge by strengthening the connections between the neurons.

Learning to play the piano at an older age can give you a new outlet for creative expression. This can also help exercise the creative centers of your brain.

Whether you’re just playing music or even creating it yourself, the brain will learn to use new areas that may have gone unnoticed before.

Overall, picking up the piano can be an exciting new adventure for both you and your brain.

Random Benefits

Even if you don’t think that playing piano is right for you, you can still get a few mental benefits from even just being around the instrument.

Piano tuners, professionals who keep acoustic pianos in tune, often experience changes to their brain through exposure to the instrument’s sounds. They have to develop skills in recognising pitches and how a piano should sound overall.

This teaches the brain to recognize correct pitches and sound frequencies, which helps the brain to identify new patterns.

If you don’t want to learn to play the instrument, you might think about learning to tune it instead.

Final Thoughts

Playing music, in general, is a wonderful and enlightening experience for anyone. Children and adults alike can expect many mental and physical benefits as they learn.

Playing piano can keep your brain sharp and healthy while strengthening its connections to your limbs. It is great for children to develop useful musical and life skills. If you are worried about keeping your brain as sharp as possible as you age, playing piano might be right up your alley.

If you aren’t sure where to start or what to look for in a new piano, we’re here to help. We can help you find the right instrument to learn on and play. For more information, feel free to get in touch so we can personally guide you through this experience.