Violin Music and Learning: The Science How it Can Develop the Brain

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In a study performed by the University of Edinburgh, it was found that trying to learn something and listening to music can develop a significant part of the brain.

That includes listening to violin music while you work, my friends! I just turned up the classical music on my computer as I'm writing this article. :)

The Scientific Study: How Learning and Music Can Relate

violin music learning

According to the study published in the journal Brain and Recognition, 30 right-handed people were given the task of practicing a thumb-to-finger sequence with their left-hand.

Sequence 1 1, 3, 2, 4, 3, 1, 3, 2
Sequence 2 2, 4, 3, 4, 1, 1, 2, 3
Sequence 3 3, 4, 1, 2, 4, 4, 2, 1
Sequence 4 4, 2, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 4

 

One group got to learn the task while listening to musical cues, while the other did not. After a four week period, MRI scans showed that the music group had significant structural changes of their arcuate fasciculus.

The arcuate fascicuus is an area on the right-side of the brain that links hearing and motor regions.

violin science

The non-musical group had no changes to this part of the brain which is fascinating. It makes sense. I get so much more work done when I listen to violin music as it seems easier to get into a "zone."

The study suggests that music makes a key difference,” lead author Dr. Katie Overy said in a statement. “We have long known that music encourages people to move. This study provides the first experimental evidence that adding musical cues to learning new motor task can lead to changes in white matter structure in the brain."

Moving physically to a steady beat is a universal human phenomenon, often occurring spontaneously and enjoyably in a musical context (Chen, Zatorre, & Penhune, 2006; Schaefer & Overy, 2015).

Accordingly, auditory cues are increasingly used to support movement learning and rehabilitation (Schaefer, 2014), with evidence suggesting that musical stimuli can support physical exercise (Karageorghis & Priest, 2012), movement rehabilitation after stroke (Thaut, 2005) and improve gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease (Benoit et al., 2014; Thaut et al., 1996; Dalla Bella, Benoit, Farrugia, Schwartz, & Kotz, 2015).

The Health Benefits of Learning Violin Music

violin music

It's pretty cool that music has the potential to influence your health positively. Let me tell you... I don't always make the best health choices related to eating and sleeping habits.

It's nice to know at least that playing the violin has had a positive impact on my health. The process of playing and learning the violin is music in my ears every day.

I never thought about how every musical note I'm "digesting" is having a positive impact on my health. Have you?

I'm pretty excited to tell my grandfather about this new study as he plays and listens to violin music every day. He's been playing for over 80 years and has never had a stroke, developed Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease. He does have arthritis, but that's about it. Other than that, he's about as healthy and sharp as you can get for a 92-year-old.

Imagine all the violin music he has digested in 82 years of playing violin almost daily? :) Here is a short video clip of us playing violin together.

My Experience With Health of Violin Students

In my ten years of being a private violin teacher, I've never seen any significant health issues with students. Maybe a few minor medical emergencies, that's about it. I've taught over 500 students. Not saying it couldn't happen (or maybe I was not informed about things that have happened).

My general feeling is that people that pursue the violin or any musical instrument live a healthier life. I've even had a student who was 89 years old start learning the violin from scratch. And you thought you were too old?

And as I told you in my article "Learning Music and 5 Ways it Influences Your Soul and Life," over 35% of my students I had coming for private violin lessons were over the age of 60.

Just like going to the gym, I see more similarities than I did yesterday comparing learning violin and working out. Both influence our health and well-being significantly.

Great news for all my fans and followers out there! So grab a piece of fruit, turn off the TV, and grab your violin. Your body will thank you later. :) 


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