Why Making Music Is the Best Brain Workout

Many people enjoy listening to music, a pastime that engages several different portions of the brain. However, research shows that when individuals make the jump from just listening to actively engaging in the creation of music, brain activity skyrockets.

According to Dr. Anita Collins, Assistant Professor of Music and Arts Education at the University of Canberra in Australia, the act of playing an instrument transforms the brain activity that occurs when you listen to music into a comprehensive brain workout. In the most popular TED Ed Lesson to date, How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain, Collins describes the activity that occurs as “fireworks going off in the brain.”

When a child learns to play the piano, for example, he engages multiple portions of the brain to read music, keep time, play intricate rhythms using all 10 fingers, and more. For a full understanding of which portions of the brain contribute to music making, check out the infographic Piano Lessons are Good for You and Your Brain created by Encore Music Lessons.

While learning to make music has clear brain benefits, an article published in TIME Magazine notes that active engagement in music lessons and classes is key to reaping those perks.

“Even in a group of highly motivated students, small variations in music engagement — attendance and class participation — predicted the strength of neural processing after music training,” said Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, in an email to TIME.

So, how can you actively involve your homeschooler in music education?

There are several learn-at-home music programs that can help you incorporate the art into your homeschool day, especially if you are well-versed in music. Alpha Omega Publications offers resources like Interactive Musician, Essentials of Music Theory 3, and Teach Yourself to Play Piano for at-home instruction.

Enrolling your child in piano, vocal, or instrumental lessons is another excellent way to involve your youngster in making music. Depending on your budget, you can check with local music stores, colleges, or even public schools for lesson opportunities. It never hurts to ask acquaintances if they know of any in-home instructors that may not be as well-advertised.

Finally, participating in community activities is another great way to get your student engaged in music. Perhaps your church has a choir or praise team that your child can join. Many neighborhoods also have children’s choirs or community bands that are open to the public.

No matter which avenue you choose to pursue, the key is to find an instrument and ensemble your homeschooler enjoys. The joy he receives from participating in the musical activity serves as intrinsic motivation to continue, boosting the impact music has on his brain.

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