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Explore Music and Activate Your Brain

Written By Paula Eisenbarth |

The year of 2011 is well under way with resolutions set, and perhaps, already abandoned. Opportunities still abound for enhancing day to day living, sharpening skills and magnifying joy. To this end, enter music, which offers the pleasure of sound and silence, whether you are listening to or performing the music yourself.

There are ample electronic resources for bringing music of any kind into daily activities, as well as attending a live performance by a favorite artist or group. Despite these opportunities, why do human beings yearn to play an instrument or sing a melody? Why make music when one can just buy a ticket, press a button or pop in an earphone? The answer may rest in the very human yearning for physical and emotional expression.

“Just as it is important to exercise different muscles, it is also important to exercise different parts of your brain. To do this, take on new cognitive activities…The most powerful activities are learning a new language or musical instrument,” according to Thomas Perls. If you are reading this article, then you are probably one of thousands of people who are conscious about healthy lifestyle. There is a desire to stretch life’s possibilities through physically stimulating activities, while bringing joy and comfort to the spirit.

Learning to sing comfortably and pleasingly engages not only technical skills, but emotional response as well. Learning to play even the simplest melodies on a keyboard or guitar can bring the satisfaction of accomplishment and the tangible release of happiness or sadness or excitement. Music making can delve the individual into another world of notes and symbols, sounds and rhythms, while helping to relieve boredom or angst, or both.

The study of music, although emotionally stimulating, is also a highly physical activity; which engages us in visual, aural, kinetic and mental facilities. Robert Jourdain believes that “Nothing is quite so demanding of a brain as musical performance, which involves the choreography of hundreds of muscles, eyes moving across instrument and score, ears following every nuance…emotions summoned and deployed.” There are large muscle groups to engage, small muscle movements to refine, breathing patterns to control, endurance to build–akin to becoming proficient at any sport or craft.

The study of music can be accomplished on your own or by enlisting a qualified teacher who can enhance the learning experience. Under the guidance of a professional, technical training expands into an expressive, accelerated course of study. In our busy and often overscheduled lives, the student-teacher relationship not only provides an organized, efficient way of learning, but much needed human to human interaction and discourse.

From the first sounds drummed in caves, to the most exquisite melodies performed by an accomplished artist, music has lured with open arms; it has regaled, soothed and challenged each individual to respond. Whether the music that enters your life is through relaxed listening or hands on learning, music is a dynamic addition to a healthy, active lifestyle.

References:

1. Perls, Thomas T., M.D., M.P.H., F.A C.P. “Live to 100!” in 60 Things To Do When You Turn 60. ed. Ronnie Sellers. Ronnie Sellers Productions, Inc., Portland, ME, 2006. p. 152.

2. Jourdain, Robert. Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination.

William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1997. Intro p. xv.

For more information contact Paula Eisenbarth, music teacher at (775) 980-9481.