In previous posts we have seen the many benefits of learning a musical instrument. Today we are going to focus specifically on the piano, and address this question that may seem simplistic at first.
The piano, what an instrument!
Playing the piano is a challenge. Pianists can play up to ten notes at the same time with both hands, build chords and differentiate tones. To handle all these options, the pianist develops totally unique brain capacities that are already being revealed by science.
The piano is the ultimate instrument in terms of skill demands: pianists must read notes, feel the keys, move their fingers and hands along 88 possible notes, and hear what is being played. And if that wasn’t enough, they have to do it all at the same time.
As we can see, playing the piano requires the coordination of the movements of both hands at the same time. For this reason, pianists have a more developed corpus callosum.
Scientists have noticed that due to the handling of both hands, the depth of the central fissure, which marks whether we are left-handed or right-handed, is much more symmetrical in both hemispheres than in those of any other person. Regardless of whether they are born right-handed or left-handed, this is hardly noticeable in a pianist’s brain, so they have been able to strengthen their weaker side to roughly match the dominant side.
Another study showed that experienced pianists literally turn off the part of their brain associated with stereotyped responses when they play. This would explain why every professional pianist develops a style of playing that is unique to him.
The ‘Mozart effect
In a 1993 study, three scientists subjected students to their experiment, which consisted of listening to a Mozart sonata. Students were better able to solve different spatio-temporal tasks. The effect disappeared after 10 minutes. Playing the piano, and in addition the works of Mozart, made the students ‘smarter’. Later studies in neuroscience locked the ‘Mozart effect’ in the drawer of skepticism, turning it into a myth, to the point that some Florida kindergartens put Mozart’s works on loop.
Does playing the piano make us smarter?
Answering then to the initial question, under no concept, learning the piano is the main reason for the improvement of intelligence. Having this clear, we can assimilate that learning piano and its technique would cause new neurological connections, causing a profound impact on our ability to learn a language, improve concentration and memory.
Practicing the piano does not make the pianist smarter, but it does improve his health. The piano is as powerful a remedy for temporary stress and daily anxieties as sport.
The increase of cognitive abilities, the coordination between body and brain and a better progress in reading are other remarkable aspects of the benefits that learning this instrument brings to the pianist.