Does Playing a Musical Instrument Actually Make You Smarter_phixr

Learning to play an instrument is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. Nothing is more gratifying than practicing a piece of music until you have mastered it. You can perform in front of other people, or you could view your music as a private hobby, like reading a book or writing poetry. Music is enjoyable in so many obvious ways that many people are surprised to learn that it provides value beyond the act of playing it. Here are some of the less overt benefits of playing music.

Math Acumen
To play music, one has to be able to instantly divide whole numbers into fractions. Sight reading allows no time to sit and count out how many notes overlap with the allotted beats per measure. The standard 4/4 time signature can be hard enough to manage, but difficult ones like 5/4 or ever 7/4 contain an odd number of beats per measure that can make the musician feel disoriented if he isn’t able to make the notes fit in properly.

Application to Other Fields
Even fields like behavior analysis can take cues from musicianship. People who are earning their masters degree in applied behavior analysis often find that a background in music can help with problem solving. Analyzing people is very similar to analyzing a piece of music. You start with the most obvious points of interest and gradually work your way in until you hone in on its true meaning.

Playing music is a balancing act. It is easy to think that musicianship is a matter of rote memorization, but you have to make a decision about every note you play as you play it. A musician has to develop an instinct for playing notes of varying length over a pulsed tempo that stays consistent. Virtually every musician has to make a conscious effort to maintain a tempo instead of giving into the natural tendency to speed up. Keeping track of everything results in the ability to organize and prioritize concurrent tasks.

Faster and More Intuitive Reading
Music is artful and creative, but it is also highly structured and regimented. Seasoned musicians view figures of notes as phrases, not as individual bursts of sound. Think of it like reading words. You don’t sound out the letters one by one. Rather, you recognize words you’ve seen before and automatically know which meanings to attach to them. Musicians interpret musical notation in the same way. There is a language embedded in music, and it takes a skill beyond technical competency to produce sounds that convey meaning. Sometimes the musician has to find a groove that deviates a tiny bit from the music as it is written. This is not a license to change everything that one might not like in the music. Part of musicianship is making these changes imperceptible in the interest of communicating a message without words.

Countless thought processes and quirks of technique have to line up perfectly in order to play even one note correctly. Applying these skills to other aspects of life result in higher performance in both work and school and lead to a more thoughtful, intuitive approach to life in general.