“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”
— Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven intuitively knew what recent research has discovered; that music benefits the brain. Moreover, music is thought to promote positive brain activity more than any other pursuit. “Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.” writes Maria Popova, blogger and critic.Advertising
Playing a musical instrument engages many areas of the brain
Playing a musical instrument requires the use of almost every area of the brain at the same time. It engages the visual, auditory and motor cortices. Playing music has also been found to increase the size and activity in the corpus callosum; the bridge that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. When this area is large messages can be transferred across the brain at a faster rate and through a variety of routes. This can result in an increased ability to resolve problems in creative and efficient ways.
Musicians have enhanced memory functions
Musicians have enhanced memory functions. They can create, store and retrieve memories at a greater speed and more proficiently then most people. Musicians seem to use their highly connected brains to label specific memories with “tags”; studies have shown. These may take the form of emotional tags, conceptual tags, audio tags and contextual tags. The process seems to work somewhat like an internet search engine. The musician can quickly find what he or she is looking for as everything is clearly labeled and put into categories.
Children who received music tuition display superior reading skills
In a study published in the Journal of Psychology of Music, it was shown that children who were exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition performed better when they were asked to preform cognitive reading tasks than their non-musically trained peers.Advertising
The authors of the study, Joseph M Piro and Camilo Ortiz from Long Island University, USA, studied children in two US elementary schools. One school trained children in music and one did not. Piro and Ortiz set out to test their hypothesis that children who received keyboard instruction would perform better on measures of vocabulary and verbal sequencing then students who did not receive any musical instruction.
The authors state that there are likenesses between the way people interpret music and language. They note that “because neural response to music is a widely distributed system within the brain…. it would not be unreasonable to expect that some processing networks for music and language behaviors, namely reading, located in both hemispheres of the brain would overlap.”
The results of the study showed that the music-learning group had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing scores than did the control group (the non-music-learning students).Advertising
Music training boosts math scores
In a study conducted by Martin F. Gardiner and his colleagues at the Center for the Study of Human Development at Brown University it was discovered that the Kodaly method of music training had a positive influence on the math skills of first and second graders. The Kodaly method involves rhythm games and learning to sing songs.
Debra Viadero states in her article, “Music on the Mind,” that “At the end of seven months, the students getting the specialized musical training were doing the same or slightly better in reading than their counterparts in the control group. But in math they zoomed ahead of their peers — even though they had started out slightly behind.” She added that, “Mr. Gardiner believes the boost comes in part because music aids children’s understanding of such concepts as number lines. …’Do is less than re, and re is less than mi.’ On a keyboard, the progression may be even easier to grasp.”
Early music training can promote growth in certain areas of the brain
Studies suggest that if a child begins music training early (before age seven) they can promote greater growth in certain areas of their brain. Reserachers in Germany found the region of the brain responsible for perfect pitch; the planum temporale (this is an area in the left hemisphere which is associated with speech).Advertising
“Using MRI, the German team looked at the planum temporale in thirty nonmusicians and in thirty professional musicians, eleven with perfect pitch and nineteen without. In the musicians with perfect pitch, the planum temporale was twice as big as in either the nonmusicians or the musicians lacking perfect pitch.” Diamond, M. and Hopson, J. wrote in their article entitled, “Magic trees of the mind: How to nurture your child’s intelligence, creativity, and healthy emotions from birth to adolescence.”
Playing a musical instrument can do wonders for your brain. As John A. Logan said, “Music’s the medicine of the mind.”
Last Updated on September 20, 2018
How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful
Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…
If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:
The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:
- Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
- Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
- Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.
Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.
2. Loosen up
After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?
Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.
3. Chew slowly
Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).
Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.
Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.
4. Let go
Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.
The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?
It’s not. Promise.
Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.
Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:
5. Enjoy the journey
Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.
Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.
6. Look at the big picture
The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:
Will this matter to me…
- Next week?
- Next month?
- Next year?
- In 10 years?
Hint: No, it won’t.
I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.
Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.
7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself
You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.
Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.
8. Practice patience every day
Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:
- The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
- Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
- Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.
Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.
Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.
Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com