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How Learning to Play a Musical Instrument as a Hobby Makes You Smarter

Sept. 10, 2019
Learning to play a musical instrument gives you countless benefits, from making you smarter to helping to relieve stress.



Have you always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument, but never gotten around to actually taking that first step? Now might be the perfect time to start. Not only is learning to play an instrument a great hobby, but it can offer valuable brain benefits that can make you smarter, in addition to being a valueable thing to do on its own.

Why Learning to Play a Musical Instrument is the Ideal Hobby

With so many potential hobbies to choose from, why choose music? Playing an instrument offers many benefits that make it a worthwhile hobby.

Lifelong Enjoyment

When you learn to play an instrument, you’re developing a skill that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. Unlike other hobbies, you’ll never age out of playing your instrument. It’s a great investment in your long-term hobbies.

Nearly Endless Learning Opportunities

When you’re a musician, there’s always something new to learn. You can continue honing your skills for countless years to come, and if you ever get tired of one aspect of your instrument, you can transfer those skills into picking up another instrument or trying out a new style of music.


When you learn to play a musical instrument, you can explore many different styles of music. That one instrument can open up the doors to the pop, jazz, country, and rock genres, and more. Playing an instrument can help you to more deeply connect with some of your favorite types of music, and when you understand what goes into the music’s creation, you can appreciate it even more.

Ensemble Opportunities

Once you have some experience playing your instrument, you can start to seek out ensemble opportunities. Playing in both large and small music ensembles will not only improve your musicianship, but it can provide fun and engaging opportunities to perform and to meet some other local musicians.

Increased Creativity

Music can increase your creativity and gives you a creative outlet. Learning to improvise or compose lets you express your feelings and ideas in a different medium.

Stress Relief

Playing music can be a great way to relieve stress. At the end of a long day, playing your instrument can be a perfect way to spend some time alone and decompress.

How Music Makes You Smarter

Numerous studies have indicated that learning to play music also makes you smarter. According to Lutz Jancke, a University of Zurich psychologist, learning to play an instrument can increase IQ in both children and adults by as much as seven points. Zurich notes that studies have found that when people over age 65 spend four or five months playing an instrument for an hour a week, their brains physically change. The areas of the brain that control hearing, memory, and hand motion all become more active.

Jancke also found that children who learned to play the piano enjoyed additional benefits. The musical instruction helped the children to become more self-disciplined, better at planning, and more attentive. Because these qualities are all important in the academic field, they can contribute to a child’s academic performance and resulting intelligence.

Additional Brain Benefits

Learning to play music offers additional cognitive benefits. Musicians can actually improve the circuits in their brain through musical improvisation. As a result, musicians rely less on memory and can instead rely more on their brain connectivity. Musicians who started learning their instruments before age seven enjoyed the greatest change to their brain anatomy as adults.

Musicians who participated in a recent Boston Children’s Hospital study were observed to have improved executive functions, which are the cognitive processes that facilitate information processing, decision making, problem solving, and jumping back and forth between different tasks. The musicians in this study experienced improved executive functions which made it easier for them to balance multiple tasks, make wise decisions, and more.

Learning an instrument also offers other valuable brain benefits. According to Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, playing music can improve your reading skills and your memory. Reading, your memory, and music all use common neural and cognitive mechanisms in your brain, so the improvements made by learning music pay off in multiple ways. Music can also increase the blood flow into the left hemisphere of your brain, leading to increased energy.

Take the First Step in Learning a Musical Instrument

If you would like to learn a musical instrument, Sage Music School is here to help you every step of the way. Our talented music teachers can help you to explore different potential instruments, find an instrument that’s just right for you, and start the process of learning that instrument. Contact us today to get started with your musical journey.

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