Why Music?

 by Mariah Gillespie


“Anatomists today would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer or a mathematician, but they would recognize the brain of a professional musician without a moment’s hesitation.”

-Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia

And To Top It All Off

  • Playing the piano helps to develop coordination and motor skills: it requires movement of the fingers, hands, arms, and feet. Small muscles, large muscles. Ears, eyes, body. It demands different actions from different fingers in different hands…simultaneously.
  • Learning an instrument teaches children about discipline, patience, and delayed gratification. They learn to persevere through hours, months, and sometimes years of practice before they reach specific goals.
  • If you can perform in a recital, you can stand up before a room of people and give a speech- in school years and beyond. Public speaking is a lifelong skill.
  • Playing an instrument is both stimulating and therapeutic, as the physical activity of playing an instrument releases the same “happy hormones” (endorphins) which sportspeople enjoy.
  • Learning and playing a musical instrument fosters self-expression, can relieve stress, and can also bring a deep sense of fulfillment and personal achievement.
  • IT'S FUN! 














Music and the Brain

Your Child’s Brain During Piano Lessons (Ms. Mariah’s notes from The Music Advantage: How Music Helps Your Child Develop, Learn, and Thrive by Anita Collins)

  • Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve and Succeed
  • Playing music has more positive impact on the brain than any other human activity.
  • Exposure to music and music instruction accelerates the brain development of young children in the areas responsible for language development, sound, reading skill and speech perception. Musicians use different parts of their brains, more of their brains and more parts of their brains simultaneously to complete tasks.
  • “Learning to make music appears to remodel children’s brains in ways that facilitate and improve their ability to learn academic content,” said Professor Kraus, head of Northwestern University Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.
  • Learning to play music increases brain activity, IQ, problem solving and also supports language development. Other studies show that learning music helps with memory development and even improves test scores, especially in math and languages.
  • Music training improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance.
  • Musical training provides tremendous benefits to children's emotional and behavioral maturation; the more a child trains on an instrument, it accelerates cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management, and emotional control.
  • Music can help children improve reading comprehension and verbal abilities.
  • It's been shown that children who receive musical training in school tend to be more civically engaged and maintain higher grade-point averages than children who don't.
  • In one study, students who studied music had higher grades, higher test scores, better attendance records and higher rates of community engagement than other students.
  • Playing music targets a very specific set of brain activity: the development of spatial-temporal reasoning. Highly developed spatial-temporal faculties are imperative for working through solutions to the complex problems in fields such as architecture, engineering, science and math.
  • By understanding beat, rhythm, and scales, children are learning how to divide, create fractions, and recognize patterns ---> mathematics.
  • As Dr. John J. Ratey writes in A User’s Guide to the Brain, “The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling — training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attention skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression.

Think 40 Years Ahead

  • Numerous studies show that taking music lessons as a child increases brain plasticity, and can help men and women resist the effects of aging and cognitive decline.
  • Research shows that music stimulates the brain and enhances memory in older people.
  • Even older musicians with hearing loss have superior hearing in noise and auditory cognitive skills.

See for yourself: 


“Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.”



"Why Music" (c) 2023 Mariah Gillespie