Head Student Team blog: The scientific benefits of music
Left brain, Right brain – the scientific benefits of music
With our mocks now over and every UCAS application submitted, for many Year 13s the reality of our A-levels has kicked in. The sense that time has begun accelerating at an increasing rate toward our exam dates is inescapable. Therefore, it is now more important than ever to know when to take a step back from work and slow down. Music has always played a great role in helping me de-stress and, as an aspiring scientist, I was curious as to why this might be. Researching this topic, I was stunned at the abundance of benefits that playing an instrument brings.
To begin with, studies have shown that music is one of the only activities that engages the majority of your brain and every major part of the central nervous system at once. According to one paper, this is due to the fine cognitive skills required - playing an instrument is controlled in both hemispheres of the brain, both the mathematical precision from the left side of the brain, and the creativity from the right side of the brain. Being able to develop several parts of the brain simultaneously has major advantages both academically and socially, a fact that I have seen manifest in my own social and academic ventures. Moreover, studies have found that musicians exhibit enhanced memory functions and have the ability to solve problems more effectively and creatively. As a result, it could be argued that playing an instrument can improve your homework!
As someone who has been playing the violin for several years, I have made a few observations on when l choose to practice. For example, I often find myself picking up my violin between study sessions during busy exam periods or after a long day at school. I notice that it allows me to express myself and relax after periods of high stress. Finding out that playing an instrument can have a unique effect on blood pressure, as well as heart rate intrigued me, especially when I realised that this effect can make us feel more relaxed and happier. Currently, I am working on Dvorak’s Violin Sonatina in G Major, a fun and playful series of pieces that has allowed me to develop my skills and creativity whilst focusing my thoughts away from work for a while.
My advice is that in order to improve your practical skills when playing and instrument, you need to make time to practice, and form the habit of distributing your time to both your academic and co-curricular activities. Without doubt, playing an instrument has helped me refine both my time management and organisational skills which are invaluable skills in the high-pressure nature of A-levels and the new responsibilities of adulthood.
Written by Aini, Year 13, Head Student Team