Benefits of Playing an Instrument

The following is from an article by Carolyn Phillips the author of the Twelve Benefits of Music Education.  To read the articl in full:
   1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning.
   2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and form mental pictures of things).
   3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions.
   4. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades
        in high school.
   5. A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of
        these cultures.
   6. Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed
        to mediocre, work.
   7. In music, a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by
       much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence
       and the concrete rewards of hard work.
   8. Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline.
   9. Music provides children with a means of self-expression. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.
   10. Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on “doing,” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how
           to perform, literally, anywhere in the world.
   11. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks.  Music contributes to mental health and can help prevent
            risky behavior such as teenage drug abuse.
   12. An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.

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With my professional experience, I have come to learn that music is with us from birth to death.  The first sounds an infant makes is a cooing, singing sound.  Yes, we sing before we speak!  In fact, speech therapists are coming to find that when people are learning to speak again, it is easier for them to sing the words opposed to speak them. While working with the elderly in nursing homes, I have seen firsthand the power of music.  I've know people who didn't know where they were nor the day, but could sit down at the piano and play songs they learned decades ago.  I've watched nonverbal persons come alive again while listening to familiar music.  I know people in their 70's, 80's, & 90's who still play an instrument.  This keeps them active, cognitively clear, and social.  Yes, the gift of music lasts a lifetime. 
- Vickie