“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 July 8, 2020
18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life
The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.
1. Understand Yourself Better
Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.
Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.
2. Keep Track of Small Changes
I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.
Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.
3. Become Aware of What Matters
As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.
You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.
4. Boost Creativity
The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.
When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.
You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.
5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment
A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”
Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.
6. Process Life Experiences
When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.
Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.
7. Stress Relief
In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.
Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.
8. Provide Direction
Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.
One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.
9. Solve Problems
Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.
Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.
When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.
10. Find Relief From Fighting
Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.
Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.
11. Find Meaning in Life
Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.
12. Allow Yourself to Focus
Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.
13. Sharpen Your Spirituality
When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.
14. Let the Past Go
I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.
15. Allow Freedom
Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.
16. Enhance Your Career
Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.
Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.
17. Literally Explore Your Dreams
All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.
18. Catalog Your Life for Others
No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.
We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.
Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:
- 5 Powerful Ways Journal Writing Changes Your Life
- How to Bullet Journal to Skyrocket Your Productivity
- Need Journal Inspiration? 15 Journal Ideas to Kickstart
Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com