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Why Giving Up Playing Music When You’ve Grown Up Is Bad For Your Brain

Why Giving Up Playing Music When You’ve Grown Up Is Bad For Your Brain

Do you know that every year, almost 100% of public school students in America begin an instrument if a school music program exists in their school? Yet over 50% of students simply quit a few years later.[1]

Even though parents encourage their children to take up a musical instrument, they never really treat music as important as other subjects. The benefits of learning maths and languages have always been greater than music in parents’ eyes, or even in children’s eyes as they grow up. So grown-ups just quit playing music.

An even more common phenomenon is that, as people grow up, they put off playing music as it doesn’t serve any concrete purpose in their hectic life in which work, vacation, friends and family times are of higher priority.

If you quit playing music because of one of the above reasons, you can’t miss the following findings explained by music educator, Anita Collins. She explained in a TED Ed video how playing instruments benefits our brains and what she says will change the way you look at music:[2]

Music stimulates multiple areas in our brains and strengthens our problem solving skills.

Neuroscientists try to understand how our brains work by monitoring them in real time. Different tasks like painting and reading have corresponding areas of the brain where activity can be observed.

When participants are listening to music while being observed, researchers see that multiple brain areas are being stimulated at once. Our brains process the sound elements like melody and rhythm and put everything together to let us feel the musical experience in just a split second.

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    Researchers also try to observe the brains of people who play music.

    While multiple areas of their brains also light up like music listeners’, playing music engages every area of the brain at once, especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices.

      Playing music combines the brain areas which involve our linguistic and mathematical skills and creativity, utilizing both hemispheres of our brains.

      Therefore, playing music is said to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum. And the enhanced brains allow musicians to apply their strength to other activities including more effectively and creatively solving problems in different settings.

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      People who play music have great memory as they’re used to interlinking messages and emotions in music.

      Music is made up of messages and emotions and therefore, musicians are processing all this information as they play music.

      Musicians often have higher levels of executive function, a category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing, and attention to detail and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects. This ability has an impact on how our memory systems work.

      Music playing comprises a number of memory cues that can trigger our brains to retrieve memories.[3] This maybe able to explain why musicians appear to be used to applying multiple cues when storing memories.

        Musicians tend to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag, an emotional tag, an audio tag,and a contextual tag, like a good internet search engine; making creating, storing, and retrieving memories more quickly and efficiently

        Now you know how good it is to continue to play musical instruments, I think your next action is pretty clear, right?

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        You don’t need to be talented to play any instrument. Just keep playing.

        All you have to do is to take your first step and take out your instrument.

        What’s your forgotten instrument? The piano that’s always been in your living room? The violin that you’ve put under your bed? Or that guitar you played only over the summer when you were still in university? Pick it up, take it out and clean it.

        I’ve always been playing the piano and drums and I love playing these instruments, but not a lot of people know that I used to play the violin too. My violin was my long-forgotten instrument which I put under my bed.

        Last week, I took out my violin from the dusty box and all the memories of me practicing violin just came back. I cleaned it and tried to tune its sound. (I’d almost forgot how!) Then I picked up my bow, my poor bow with bow hair breaking out, and moved it over the strings…it sounded terrible.

        It sounded terrible because I hadn’t played it for so long, and it’s also because my violin and my bow were all out of maintenance. But all those memories motivated me to take up the instrument again.

        Watch more live music to light your fire.

        Watching or listening to live music has the magic to leave you feeling more motivated than ever to play your own. Every time after watching a live performance of any kind of music, I just want to play my piano when I get back home. And whenever I see the amazing performance by some great violinists, I want to practice my violin and get more skilful in it.

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        Look for musical scores of your favorite music to keep your fire burning.

        This always works. There must be some songs you really love and want to know how to play.

        Look for the musical score on the internet or in the library, that’s how you can keep the fire burning. When you have a goal — to learn to play your favorite songs beautifully, you’ll work hard for it.

        Of course, you have to pay attention to the difficulty level of the piece of music. Don’t push yourself too hard, take it slowly and try to work on the fundamentals first before challenging yourself for some difficult pieces.

        You can watch the whole video on TED Ed here to find out more about the amazing benefits of playing an instrument.

        Featured photo credit: TED Ed via ed.ted.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Anna Chui

        Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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        Last Updated on June 2, 2020

        8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

        8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

        The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

        Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

        Thus, today’s article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question, “why is goal setting important”.

        1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

        It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

        But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

        Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

        Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

        “Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

        And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

        Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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        So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

        2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

        Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

        You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

        Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

        Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

        So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

        3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

        A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

        But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

        Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

        Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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        So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

        4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

        This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

        Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

        What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

        This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

        If you want to learn about some of the golden rules for goal setting that will help you set and achieve your goals successfully check out this article: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

        So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

        5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

        This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

        What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

        The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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        Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

        So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

        6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

        Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

        For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

        A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

        Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

        So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

        7. Goals Make You Feel Good

        Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

        Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

        Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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        If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

        So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

        8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

        I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

        Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

        Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

        There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

        Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

        So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest!

        Final Thoughts

        These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

        If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

        Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

        More Tips About Goals Setting

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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