It's that time of year again... Graduation.
As I write this, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance is on repeat in my mind, and it takes me back to the very end of my high school days.
There's a young, sweaty me, sitting on a folding chair on the football field, wearing a robe that feels as though it might melt onto my skin. The tassel on my mortarboard keeps hitting me in the eye, but at least it mops up a little perspiration as it swings across my face...
Who knew back then that I would be a cellist and teacher a mere *mumble mumble* years in the future?
Back to the Future!
Uh, I meant to say, back to the present ...
During lessons this week, I discovered that both of my students who are high school seniors this year are valedictorians.
And so was I all those years ago.
How crazy is that? It's all a big coincidence, right?
I'm not so sure!
This got me thinking about the connection between music and the mind.
Even listening to non-classical music can have significant performance enhancing benefits (http://www.livescience.com/2953-amazing-power-music-revealed.html)!
So if listening to music is helpful, what about playing music on an instrument?
Well, it turns out that kids who learn to play a musical instrument undergo physiological changes in their brain which can aid in their academic endeavors (http://time.com/3634995/study-kids-engaged-music-class-for-benefits-northwestern/).
In addition to that, learning a musical instrument can also help with developing mental toughness
...and curbing behavioral problems
Okay. So playing an instrument can help your brain in a bunch of ways.
What about playing a string instrument?
Some scientific studies have shown that string players' brains are larger than the brains of other musicians
But maybe that's just because we have big heads...?
This cute video sums it all up!
Not just for kids!
Those of us who are more mature can reap major benefits from playing a musical instrument as well. Not only can it improve your health--staving off anxiety, depression, and general cognitive decline (http://www.livescience.com/40597-playing-musical-instrument-good-health.html)--but it can also help prevent dementia
Learning an instrument could be just about the best thing an adult can do to improve his or her brain health
And it might also be a little bit fun!
For further reading
If you're interested in seeing a few more articles on this topic, check out these:
And this one, specifically about the defiant nature of cellists (who, us?):
Do you have personal experience to support or debunk these ideas? Let me know what you think about all this in the comments section below.
And in the meantime, congrats to all the graduates! For the rest of us, we'll just enjoy all that Elgar wafting through the spring air!