By Jerry Rich, Director of Music
Most of us studied music while growing up, and many continued singing or playing into our teens. To those of you who are still making music after high school: bravo! And to those who have put aside singing or playing, here are some reasons why you might want to consider bringing music-making back into your life. If you are looking for a place to make music with others, Trinity’s music ensembles are here to help you!
The following statements come from the recently-published Making Time for Making Music: How to Bring Music into Your Busy Life by Amy Nathan (Oxford University Press, 2018). Nathan’s book is based on recent scientific research and discussions with lifelong musicians, both amateur and professional; it also gives practical suggestions on how to get back into music-making.
Music assists the brain. Being involved with music seems to activate more parts of the brain than many other kinds of tasks. A professional musician’s brain tends to develop a larger corpus callosum, which bridges the left and right hemispheres and helps the brain modify itself and create new pathways.
Music helps with non-musical tasks. The brains of music-makers assist the executive function tasks of coordination, planning, and problem-solving.
Music builds cognitive reserve. The extra neural pathways in musicians’ brains may lessen some of the mental decline of aging by raising our levels of cognitive functioning and helping us find new ways to do tasks.
Music relieves stress. Listening to music helps the brain release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with positive mood and effect. Performing music may release endorphins, mood-enhancing neurochemicals known for producing “runner’s high.” The mindfulness of music practice can make brainwaves associated with stress decrease.
Music helps relationships. People enjoy music-making’s connection to meeting new people, forming new relationships, and experiencing companionship. Music gets you “out of the house”, and gives purpose to your spare time. Music can bring you closer to your family and help you celebrate your cultural heritage.
Music performance unlocks its meaning. Working with others to present great music helps us appreciate the genius of its creator and gives us an opportunity to share in its rich design.
Music heals. Playing music can help people cope with life’s difficulties by giving an outlet to grief and a structure to life as well as connecting us to others.