|Weekly Reflections on Life and Music|
— Oliver Sacks
Many of us may know these things on an intuitive level. We know that we get into a “zone” when we play; we have experienced that change in body, mind, and soul that occurs when we play our instrument. Many of these ideas from the Piano Power post by Mike Levitsky may be useful in helping us name what it is we are experiencing on an almost daily basis. If you are not yet experiencing these on some kind of regular basis, look at the edited list below.
I’ll just start with the overview. These four would be reason enough.
◆ Uses Almost Every Part Of The Brain. (from TED Ed)
◆ Enlarges The Brain
◆ Speeds Up Reaction Times
◆ Strengthens Your Immune System
⁃ These physical benefits are just the start, because they are naturally at the base of all the other reasons. In the end it is most likely these physical benefits that feed into allowing all the others to help us, as musicians, to do more than we think we are doing.
Some of the reasons listed are obvious, of course. We may not even realize they are happening. While we may not always succeed at having these occur, we at least become more aware of them.
◆ Allows You To Share With Others
◆ Develops Music Appreciation
◆ Increases Time-Management Skills
- I almost wanted to delete this last one. I know way too many musicians whose time management skills are just plain bad. No matter how much they may insist they want to be there on time, they are always late. I am willing to give them some break since they do manage to practice and get to concerts and gigs on time. Usually. But enough snideness. After all, there are exceptions to everything, and I’m certainly not perfect, either.
Most of the reasons listed fall under what can be called “developmental assets”, no matter what our age. These would be:
◆ Benefits The Brains Of Babies
◆ Benefits Spelling and IQ In Children
⁃ Some of these two benefits are still under investigation, some are questions of nurture vs. nature. There are studies being done to see if those with higher abilities in a number of areas are drawn to music more than those who don’t, for example. In other words, does correlation mean causation? The numbers do show some indication of at least a low level of causation.
◆ Increases Emotional Perception
⁃ Music is emotion through sound. It only makes sense that some music may increase our abilities to perceive emotions. As a counselor, however, I have a hunch that this takes a lot of work to reach that ability.
◆ Decreases Age-Related Hearing Loss
⁃ I’m not sure about this one. Many of us do have some significant hearing issues as a result of years of being trumpet players or playing without ear protection. But perhaps it has to do with being able to hear with better perception of things. In my case, that is true, when I remember to wear my hearing aids.
◆ Reduces Stress
◆ Produces Patience and Perseverance
◆ Increases Personal Discipline
⁃ These three go together. The more stressed we are, the less patience we have. The more we get worked up over something, the less likely we are to persevere. When we are working on a difficult piece, we can learn to be willing to work on it, sometimes with little patience and too much perseverance That’s when things get difficult. Patience and perseverance also means knowing how to pull back and take a different or more effective approach. Music can do that!
◆ Increases Memory Capability
⁃ If you can’t remember where you left your keys, maybe it is because you forgot to practice your instrument! At least that is what the article said. This may have as much to do with keeping the brain active and engaged than actually improving memory as such. Whichever it is, I’ll take it!
◆ Breeds Confidence
⁃ When all these things begin to show up in our lives, it only makes sense that we will be more confident in what we are doing. And confidence in one area often translates to a better sense of confidence in oneself. Again, the counselor in me sees how this can be sabotaged by other events, but success is a growth mode. Just don’t get overconfident.
◆ Cultivates Creativity
⁃ The result of all this is that we can also become more creative. I found this definition of creativity on the website Creativity at Work:
⁃ Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.⁃ If that isn’t what we learn on our instruments, I don’t know what is!
◆ It is fun!