Without a doubt, music is a vital component of every society and plays a significant role in cultures around the globe. More precisely, playing an instrument and actively participating in the music, especially when young, has been a popular neuroscience topic in recent decades.

It has been demonstrated that learning to play an instrument improves cognitive ability by improving neuronal communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This has positive effects on learning, memory, fine motor skills, verbal and nonverbal reasoning, and overall brain capacity that can be applied in a variety of contexts.

Neil Armstrong was, as we all know, the first person to set foot on the moon. In addition, he taught at universities and flew as a test pilot for the Navy. But few are aware that he played the baritone horn as well.

Louis Braille’s contribution to the education of the blind will forever be remembered and revered by the world. And he was also an excellent organist.

Albert Einstein’s Nobel Prize in Physics is more than justified by his breakthroughs in science with the theories of relativity and gravitation, but it would be fair to debate the possibilities of his scientific acumen without his background in the piano and violin.

Sir Brian Harold May has set the standard for what defines a legendary guitarist with his solo in Bohemian Rhapsody, but it might not be known to all that he is also a highly accomplished astrophysicist, and has made numerous contributions to the field through his research on asteroids and spreading global awareness on how we can protect our planet from them.

It is not difficult to discern and conclude what the above-mentioned highly accomplished intellectuals have in common, which is their musical background.

This article will give its readers both an overall understanding of the advantages of physically perceiving music and a deeper insight into different musical instruments and the specific advantages that make each category of instrument unique in its own right.

The general benefits of playing an intrument and the science behind it

Research has demonstrated that engaging in musical activities enhances cognitive function by improving neural connectivity between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This leads to favourable outcomes in areas such as learning, memory, fine motor control, verbal and nonverbal reasoning, and overall brain capacity, making the brain more adaptable to a wide range of situations.

According to recent research, learning to play an instrument actively helps a child develop neurophysiological distinction. When they play music instead of just listening to it, their brains are trained to perceive and comprehend sounds that are specific to that experience.

This is advantageous for growing brains because, while the brain is still developing, it rewires the normal neural communication pathway to link the left and right hemispheres in a more complex way. As a result, the brain can process complex information more easily. The motor, sensory, auditory, visual, and emotional aspects of the central and peripheral nervous systems are all interconnected when playing an instrument.

According to the Portland Chamber Orchestra, just 15 months of early childhood instruction can cause the brain to undergo several structural changes associated with music practice. Some motor and auditory skills have improved in tandem with these changes. For instance, a child who receives music instruction during development experiences an increase in neurogenesis and neural connections in the hippocampal region, which is involved in learning and memory. Better memory function and learning result from this. Studies have shown that people with amusia, a form of tone deafness that impairs basic musical perception and skills, have less white matter in certain brain regions than normal subjects, particularly those who are very involved in music.

One of the hardest and most complex cognitive tasks the brain can perform is playing an instrument. It's a very satisfying experience for a lot of people, both biologically and emotionally. One can apply the amazing sensory-motor interplay that is developed during the process to a plethora of other tasks that they may encounter in their lifetime. The fact that playing an instrument requires such integration of the motor, visual, and auditory domains of our brains is not surprising.

Some of the categories of instruments and what might be suitable for you

You will be forced to become aware of every aspect of your breathing when you play a woodwind instrument, from sharp and controlled exhalations to loose and open inhalations. Your lungs will undoubtedly get a severe respiratory workout from woodwind instruments.

Playing wind instruments improves your breathing while also exercising your muscles with each breath. Because these require you to breathe harder, they put pressure on your abdomen, which gradually works out your muscles.

Wind instruments require coordination of the hands, eyes, breath, and tongue. A minor tweak here and there would disrupt your music. To produce the correct sound, you must be attentive. So, apart from the physical advantages, you will develop the ability to coordinate with wind instruments. This is also beneficial to one's health because coordination brings the mind and body into harmony.

String instruments

Nearly all musical genres feature string instruments, either prominently or subtly. They are admired because they most closely resemble the human voice. Each has a long and distinguished history in a range of musical styles, such as baroque, hip-hop, heavy metal, and bluegrass. Each has a long list of pieces that were written especially for it.

Learning chords, melodies, and lyrics is necessary for playing the guitar. Your cognitive abilities and memory will both benefit from this. Additionally, you can develop your fine motor skills by learning to play the guitar. This is due to the fact that fretting the strings requires your fingers. This enhances dexterity and coordination. And lastly, stress and anxiety can also be decreased by learning to play the guitar. This is so that when you play, your attention is drawn to the music rather than your concerns. Also, let us not forget how most people who play the guitar tend to have a societal advantage in terms of popularity!

Some string instruments, such as the violin and the cello, have no frets. Hence, simply trying to play an accurate note requires your brain to learn and memorize the sound and position of a new pitch.

In addition, students must learn the proper bow position, speed, and pressure to produce a desired sound across the strings. This requires more than just memory but also brainstorming and experimentation because the bow can produce a wide range of sounds, some pleasant and some surprising.

As a result, your brain is getting a good workout while attempting to deal with the issues presented in both hands, ultimately bringing all of it together to create a balanced, full, and pleasant tone.

Percussion instruments

There are many physical and mental health advantages to playing a percussion instrument. Playing percussion, an instrument that produces rhythms, is easy to learn, and is a great way to express yourself musically,. It's an exciting hobby to take up.

Children and adults alike benefit from playing percussion instruments because it improves their motor skills and coordination. It takes hands, fingers, arms, and feet to play the drums. It calls for precise timing and simultaneous movement, which enhances rhythmic coordination and may even encourage ambidexterity.

Research has also demonstrated that drumming improves brain waves and speeds up the healing process for individuals in addiction treatment. Drumming is a truly healing art form that lets you overcome addiction and lose yourself in the rhythms of your own music.

Another fun fact is that an accelerated immune response is provided by natural killer cells, which are higher in participants who are drumming, according to a 2001 study published in the scientific journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.

Piano and keyboards

As we get older, our ability to process auditory signals typically decreases. On the other hand, individuals in a recent study who listened to music continuously throughout their lives were able to stop the deterioration of their inner ear hearing loss, memory, and brain processing. According to a study by Martin F. Gardiner and colleagues at Brown University's Centre for the Study of Human Development, second graders with specialised musical training in particular steps towards increased difficulty had math proficiency that was noticeably higher than that of their peers.

Preschool keyboard lessons can enhance preschoolers' early language development and spatial-temporal intelligence, according to a study conducted in the early 1990s that identified the "Mozart effect" in children. Furthermore, a study conducted by Dr. Charles Limb revealed that solo pianists respond linguistically and grammatically with their brains.

A 1993 study that was summarised in the journal Educational Psychology revealed a connection between strong reading performance and the basic skill of pitch discrimination—something you learn when playing the piano. Learning to memorise music prior to a performance also strengthens the recall portion of your brain and your reading comprehension abilities.

Jazz pianists were the subject of a recent study by Dr. Ana Pinho. She observed their brain activity during play and discovered that the area of their brains in charge of automatic or stereotyped reactions was actually turned off. Rather, during a jazz piano performance, the improvisational part of their brains comes into play, producing a distinct sound and style.


Learning to play an instrument has many therapeutic emotional benefits in addition to its positive effects on cognition. Finally, learning to play an instrument can give you a great sense of accomplishment as you devote more time and effort to becoming proficient; this confidence and sense of accomplishment will also carry over into other aspects of your life.

(This article was written with contributions of Ritam Basu)


1 The Review: A Journal of Undergraduate Student Research.
2 Famous People Who Played or Play a Musical Instrument.
3 Science-Based Reasons Why Playing A Wind Instrument Is Good For Mind and Body.
4 The Beautiful Benefits of Learning a String Instrument.
5 The Benefits of Playing Guitar: How it Can Improve Your Life.
6 Top 10 Benefits of Playing a Percussion Instrument.
7 15 Benefits of Learning Piano.
8 The Health Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument.