When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What's going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians' brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Someone suggested to me that the same would apply to singing.  Yes, but it is the hands that really engage the brain on yet another level.  Almost 50% of our nerve endings are in the hands, plus left and right brain, making playing piano one of the most impactful instruments to play.

Singing is sequential, like language, whereas playing piano forces your brain to parallel process rhythm, harmony and melody at once. If you study and sing more complex music like Bach's Mass in B Minor or 4 part hymns or quartets, you are now at least navigating and coordinating with the multiple voices, so that level of singing (choral) should challenge and stimulate the brain more than say a simple melody.

The truth is we are merely at the beginning of a golden age of music/brain research, but the evidence is already accumulating from dozens of studies with fMRI work to indicate music is as essential to brain growth as vitamin C to optimal health.

Learn to play piano with Piano Wizard Academy and see how you or your child can benefit from music playing.

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