The Benefits of Playing Piano

Music is definitely entertaining! Whether you’re dancing at an outdoor rock concert, sitting in the balcony of an opera house, or chilling with your headphones on, music is the universal language enjoyed in every corner of the world.

There is, however, much more to music than mere entertainment! Over the years, there has been an abundance of exceptional research about the benefits of music. It’s good for the body, it’s good for the brain, and it’s good for the soul! Actively engaging music through playing an instrument — that brings it to whole new level! Why is that? Let me explain, using my favorite instrument, the piano!

Playing Piano is Good for the Body…

Practicing any instrument offers many different benefits for your body! But is it worth learning to play the piano? What skills does playing piano give you?

Body Benefit #1 – Cardio Workout!

I always listen to music when you work out. Pretty sure most people do. I choose songs that get your heart pumping, with a steady rhythm that’s easy to feel: a fast, strong beat with the volume cranked high can really intensify a workout!

Have you ever noticed listening to that kind of music, when not working out, brings your heartbeat right back up? Though you’re not actually working out, your body is reacting to the music as though you were in the gym! Next time you listen to music while doing cardio, focus on your playlist. Later in the day, go back to that playlist and watch what happens. A freebie calorie burner, thanks to music!

Body Benefit #2 – Strength Training!

Cardio is one benefit, but there’s also strength training involved while playing the piano. Yes, you can grow your muscles!! Fingers, arms, and shoulders increase in strength as you practice more! You certainly won’t need help opening a pickle jar!

Body Benefit #3 – Flexibility & Speed

How else does building these specific muscles help? Playing piano fine-tunes your motor skills increasing your coordination and flexibility. Added bonus!! This is great for typing, and for all sorts of sports too! In fact, your hand-eye coordination and reaction time will improve. Any gamers out there? Prepare to drop your speed-run times like crazy!!

Playing Piano is Good for the Brain…

Practicing any instrument pushes your brain to full capacity. Practicing piano takes your brain to a whole new level!

Brain Benefit #1 – The Ultimate Multi-tasker

Did you know it takes 10 different areas of your brain to work together simultaneously when you play? Talk about the ultimate multitasker! Especially on the piano, where you’re reading two staffs, playing with two hands, 10 fingers, two feet… there’s a lot going on! Practicing, playing, performing – these all strengthen the brain by stimulating growth and forming connections so that different areas learn how to work in concert together. It’s really quite amazing!

Brain Benefit #2 – Live Long and Happy!

Do you want to live a long and happy life? Did you know that a rush of dopamine happens every single time your brain experiences something new? Researchers say neophilia, or the enthusiasm for novelty, is actually a predictor for longevity! The brain really loves new things! It keeps people interested and motivated in life, as opposed to getting bored with things.

What does this have to with learning piano? Every week you learn new things for your brain to get excited about! New songs = dopamine rush = happy people!

Brain Benefit #3 – Reduce Stress, Anxiety & Lower Depression

Happy people are less stressed and less anxious. Thank you, dopamine rush! There are endless studies out there that show piano playing helps reduce these feelings, as well as feelings of depression! It’s hard to be caught up in worries when so many parts of your brain are focused on creating music.

Brain Benefit #4 – Teaching Discipline & Concentration

How playing piano affects the brain is simply remarkable! It develops concentration skills, which are crucial to studying. This shouldn’t be surprising when so many parts of the brain are working at once! Practicing the piano teaches self-discipline, another invaluable asset for studying.

My students grumble when I say “play it again” … “and again” … “and again.” In fact, my teacher told me that you had to play something 26 times with no mistakes to get it perfect! Doing the same thing over and over again… that takes perseverance and discipline.

Maybe you’ve heard that Michael Jordan (aka the greatest basketball player ever) saying, “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” This is something you do every time you sit at the piano. You rarely get it right the first time, but I guarantee you, with a little practice (sometimes a lot of practice) you will get it right. Concentration. Perseverance. Discipline.

Brain Benefit #5 – Higher Test Scores!

Does playing piano make you smarter? YES!! Not surprisingly, a benefit of playing piano is it expands your brain’s potential. There has been so much research demonstrating that students with consistent quality music lessons score higher on standardized tests of English, Math, and Science in comparison to non-piano students.

Brain Benefit #6 – Memory Powerhouse!

Fortunately, with all the new found super-powers gained when learning piano, the capacity to manage it also increases! That’s right, another benefit of playing an instrument is that it improves memory! It expands your brain to accept more information, and it teaches your brain how to hold it.

In fact, long-term rigorous practice has shown to enhance cognitive abilities in adults! It’s not just about memorizing pieces, it’s about increasing brain power! The hippocampus – the part of the brain that is associated with memory — gets a great workout every time you play!

Playing Piano is Good for the Soul…

Music can take you anywhere in the world without leaving the comfort of your own living room. What? That sounds nuts!

Soul Benefit #1 – Cognitive Perception: A Matter of Perspective

Did you know music has a “ghost-like” effect on your brain? It can take your brain to a place or a time, without actually being there! It’s called cognitive perception, and the result? The brain releases endorphins as if you were there experiencing it! Remember — endorphins make you happy!

For example, I love visiting Hawaii. I could sit oceanside every single day, all day long. Watching the waves, listening to the surf, breathing in the salty air. Play some Hawaiian music for me, and I’m right there sitting on the beach (when in reality I’m probably in Minnesota looking out my window, seeing the cold, white, crystalline snow). For that moment, listening to Hawaiian music, I’m taken outside reality, and my body reacts as if it was real.
Now, actually playing Hawaiian music on the piano: your entire body is involved! It can be a completely existential experience! Incredibly good for the soul on a bleak winter’s day!

Soul Benefit #2 – The Art of Sharing

When you play piano, or really, when you play any instrument, you get to share the music with others. You pour yourself… your frustration, your sorrow, your love, your emotions… into the piano, creating sounds that are unique to you. When you share that music, it can touch hearts, and move souls like nothing else in this world.

BONUS Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument…

1. Learn Italian… and a little French and German while you are at it. Music is often referred to as the universal language, but in actuality, the words used to describe how to play are mostly in Italian! So, taking piano lessons is like a 2-for-1 class in music and language! Or is that due-uno?

2. Increased self-confidence. You will get it right. And with that, you’re on top of the world! I’m sure you’ve heard the old acronym “practice makes perfect.” Practice over and over, and that discipline and confidence you gain can be applied to every single aspect of your life.

3. Better social behavior. Music is so good for increasing empathy. Studying music takes such a keen sensitivity to hear and relay moods and emotions, which in turn, helps you connect with others in social situations.

Most of all… It’s FUN!!!

Arguably the number one benefit of playing piano is it’s SO fun! It’s a great emotional release, it’s a creative escape, and best of all, you learn a new skill!

If you are ready to start looking for the PERFECT piano teacher for YOU, click here for some helpful tips!

If you can think of more benefits to playing the piano, please feel free to share below! I would love to hear from you!