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Brain Food: 7 Ways Piano Playing Benefits Your Brain

Jul 8, 2008
If you're looking for a perfect way to keep your mind sharp, piano playing is the solution. It exercises several different parts of the mind and body, while providing you with years of musical enjoyment. Whether you play piano currently or are thinking about starting, playing piano is great brain food.

Our population is aging. People are living longer lives, and they are constantly looking for brain food to keep their mental prowess in peak condition. One of the best ways to keep those hamsters running might be sitting in the corner of your living room gathering dust. That old piano of grandma's has more than its share of brain teasers. Here are 7 benefits of learning to play the piano:

1.Piano playing increases coordination. In order to play piano, your hands must develop independent coordination. This is one of the basic ways to keep your mind sharp. Each hand must often perform entirely different movements, and the brain must tell each hand what to do. By learning separate hand coordination, you stimulate several different areas of the brain. Practice each hand separately, and then combine the movements of each hand.

2. Piano playing increases hearing awareness. Not everyone is born with a good sense of pitch, but people can develop it through exposure and practice. When you play piano, you train your ear to hear pitches and tones in relation to one another. This makes developing a sense of relative pitch possible. Intervals stimulate your mind in slightly different ways. A perfect fifth will cause one reaction in your brain, while a seventh will cause an entirely separate reaction. This trains the mind to recognize pitches and intervals, even if beneath the level of the concious mind.

3. Sight reading offers the brain another workout, as the eyes must follow the music while the hands play it. The ability to sight read is similar to knowing a foreign language, yet also requires extreme hand-eye coordination. The eye muscles are also strengthened as they move up and down the staff across the page.

4.The analysis of musical passages and learning the theory involved is another mental exercise when you play piano. It's brain food at its finest. Chords, melodies, and changes are all rooted in complex musical theory. It pays dividends to learn and understand how music is put together.

5. Piano playing increases social participation. When you play piano in the presence of others, you are participating in a valuable social exercise. History is filled with participants and spectators in the world of music. You have the ability to make others' time more enjoyable. You also meet other musicians who can share knowledge with you, expanding your understanding of the piano.

6. Proper piano playing, whether done for leisure or profession, keeps the fingers nimble. It strengthens all the muscles of the hands, which helps in other lines of work. A maintenance man with strong hands is more valuable than one with weak digits.

7. Besides all this, piano playing is great fun. It lets you create your own tune for the day. The piano has provided society with over a hundred years of enjoyment and will do so for hundreds more. It's not only an instrument; it's a social communication tool and a brain exercise, as well.

Play piano for your brain. It's lot more fun than Sudoku, and it's great at parties.
About the Author
Duane Shinn is the author of the popular online newsletter on piano chords, available free at "Exciting Piano Chords & Chord Progressions!"
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