World Mental Health Day and Music

With today being the World Mental Health day it got me thinking about how music, and specifically the piano, have helped me over the years. Not only from an emotional perspective but how piano helps you to develop cognitive funciton.

When I sit down to play the piano, I generally try to clear my mind before even starting. However, sometimes my mind is buzzing with information. Could be my day job, family, something on the news. That doesn’t matter because after playing and focussing for 5 minutes, my mind is clear. Well… clear from the other stuff and solely focussed on the piano and the page in front of me.

There are a large list of benifits for playing and it doesn’t matter whether you started playing when you were 5 or 6 or when you’re 70 or 80 (or anything inbetween). Let’s start with the kids first.

There’s an excellent article which I’ll link below, about a study that was done on children relating to piano lessons. One group was given weekly piano lessons for 3 years and the others weren’t. Children who received lessons scored higher in tests around attention, memory, logic and reasoning. The key to it all is consistency.

However, if you play or start playing as an adult the benefits are slightly different. Music has been shown to help reduce anxiety, depression and fatigue. Music can also help alleviate symptoms of dimentia whilst improving memory and giving a great feeling of independence.

I’ve never really sat down to consider all of these points above. For me personally it’s al about enjoying myself and making music. As a teacher it’s all about seeing student’s improvements. The look on student’s faces when they achieve something they never thought was possible is a reward in itself.

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