Why Study Music?
by
Nancy Triggiani-Musco

The benefits derived from studying music and playing a musical instrument are numerous.  Recent developments in neuroscience have allowed researchers to delve further into the neurological effects music has on the brain.  Scientists are actively studying how playing music engages specific regions of the brain that are responsible for such things as understanding spatial relationships, hand-eye coordination, focus, attention span and memory.  In addition, the positive effect music has on various neurological conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s and even depression is being explored.  Since music alters brain waves, it can also influence the cardiovascular system and certain music can be calming and lower blood pressure.

Perhaps the best argument for why the study of music is so beneficial comes from this quote, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.  I often think in music.  I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music.”  Those are the words of Albert Einstein, an avid musician who played the violin and piano since an early age.  Einstein constructed many of his equations and solved complex scientific problems while improvising on his violin, not while endlessly scratching numbers on a piece of paper with his pencil.  

Einstein was not the only great person in history to have a passion for music and integrate it into their everyday life.  Thomas Jefferson played the violin, cello and clavichord and would often pick up his violin for inspiration when writing the Declaration of Independence.  Among the many musician Presidents are John Adams who played the flute, Woodrow Wilson - the violin, Bill Clinton - the saxophone and Harry Truman who actually studied to be a concert pianist before turning his focus to politics, although not entirely.  While living in the White House, Truman had a grand piano he played regularly. 

Aside from political figures, other renowned individuals who were also musicians include inventors Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, who were all piano players, English writer, Charles Dickens who played the accordion, Louis Braille who invented the Braille system of printing and reading for the blind, played the organ and astronaut, Neil Armstrong played the baritone horn.

Beyond what music can do to enhance one’s cerebral capacity, one of the most important benefits of music is that it is a positive form of self-expression and brings joy.  In a world where there are often too many negative influences, the playing of a musical instrument provides a wonderful haven.  Music is an enriching pursuit that brings true happiness, something that becomes part of your being and can never be lost or taken away.

To conclude, in the words of Einstein, “I know that the most joy in my life has come from my violin.”

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