• Rachael Inwood

What Playing A Musical Instrument Can Do To Your Body

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Playing a musical instrument is a wonderful thing to do. Not only is it an enjoyable activity to do it, but it also has some surprising health benefits too.


Playing an instrument is the brain’s equivalent of having a full body work out. Studies using a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and Positron Emission Tomography, have shown that there is a lot of brain activity going on while you are playing a musical instrument. When musicians were playing their instruments in the scanners, every part of the brain lit up as it worked. Music engages every part of the brain especially the motor, visual and auditory parts. Regular practice strengthens the neurones that crosses both hemispheres so that messages can get across the brain quickly [1]. Because of this if a child starts learning a musical instrument at a young age, then it also can change the anatomy of the brain[2].


Playing an instrument helps to develop the brain because it works all areas of the brain. A study in 2014 [3] found that there was a link between improved executive functions and musical training. Executive functions are the processes that help people to process and retain information quickly and solve problems. Musicians are able to combine sensory information from hearing, touch and sight, as all are used in playing an instrument [2]. Studies have shown that both listening and playing music activates the brain and can increase memory [4].


Musicians need good hand-eye coordination, you need to be able to take what you see on the page and get your body to be able to respond in a way that plays the sound that is notated. There is evidence that learning an instrument does also improve fine motor skills [5].


If you play an instrument that requires you to blow down it for a sound to come out of, then you need to know how to breathe effectively. You learn to take breathes that fill up your lungs and then control the explosion of air to create the sound that you want to achieve. This, in turn, will help you improve your posture because you can’t use your lungs effectively if you a slouching [6].


Studies have shown that playing music can help to reduce blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and lower levels of anxiety and depression. There is also evidence to suggest that music can help boost our immune system [7]. You can play whatever you want on your instrument. It can be used as a way to express yourself, when you may not have the words to do so. The more advanced you become as a player, the more you will be able to play what you want and how you want. When you are playing music, you have to focus on what you are playing, it is a form of mindfulness.


This is just a small exploration into physical effects that playing a musical instrument can have on your body. The following posts will expire the social and psychological effects the music can have on you.


Website links

[1] https://brainconnection.brainhq.com/2018/06/03/can-music-education-really-enhance-brain-functioning-and-academic-learning/#A1


[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316075843.htm


[3] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0099868


[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-athletes-way/201311/musical-training-optimizes-brain-function


[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0JKCYZ8hng&t=4s


[6]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7181557_Does_Music_Instruction_Improve_Fine_Motor_Abilities


[7] http://liverpoolacademyofmusic.com.au/play-an-instrument-relieve-stress/


[8] http://liverpoolacademyofmusic.com.au/4-surprising-health-benefits-of-learning-a-woodwind-instrument/

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