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Want to get a full-body workout for your brain? Here’s how.

In the last few decades, neuroscientists have made enormous breakthroughs in understanding how our brains work by monitoring them. More than any other activity, playing an instrument is like a full-body workout for your brain. Inside a musician’s brain, there’s a party going on. Why is that?

[Related: How to Learn Properly: the Feynman Technique]

Full-Brain Workout

While listening to music promotes brain activity, playing an instrument causes your brain to throw a party by utilizing every area of your brain. Disciplined, structured practice strengthens those brain functions and allows us to apply that strength to other activities.

Playing music incorporates both hemispheres of your brain (analytical and creative) and musicians often have higher levels of “executive functioning,” meaning they can approach a situation from every angle.

[Related: Study Less, Study Smart]

Neuroscientists have found that playing an instrument enraptures the brain more than any other activity studied, including other motor activities like sports or gaming. Taking up an instrument (pulling out that old, dusty one) might be just what your brain needs!

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Do you or have you played an instrument? Which instrument(s)? Why did you enjoy or not enjoy it?
  3. Especially in school, there are a lot of stigmas against musicians. “Band geeks” is a common phrase. Why do you think this is?
  4. How does this topic impact your view of playing an instrument? Does playing an instrument give you an edge in life? Explain.
  5. Name a few famous musicians. How would you rate their intelligence? Why?
  6. Do you feel like professional musicians waste their intelligence or use it to excel? Explain.
  7. What are possible negative effects of playing an instrument?
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.