playing the violin

The Effect of Playing a Musical Instrument on Your Academic Performance

A lot of students claim that studying while listening to music helps them concentrate better. Some may say that the tunes just help them feel less bored with their readings, but according to science, music does more than that.

Playing music lifts up the mood, increases motivation, boosts memory and brain stimulation, and helps manage pain and fatigue. When you use it to aid in your studies, those benefits can reflect on your test scores and report card.

Hence, if you need to catch up on your grades, taking music classes may be a good idea. An additional course load may be the last thing you need when you’re already juggling a lot, but you may find it more relaxing than taxing. After all, learning to play a musical instrument doesn’t entail pressure like math and science do.

Besides, a study has found that high school students who are highly engaged in music were one year ahead in their English, math, and science skills compared to their peers who don’t take music classes. But how does music help them, exactly?

Music Helps You Find Motivation

In times when people are stressed and tired, they tend to turn to music for a quick pick-me-up. Indeed, blasting your playlist improves your mood, and promotes a more positive mindset. As such, you regain the motivation to study, or finish your assignments.

According to research, a good mood generally improves your learning outcome. You’d more likely succeed in studying and learning new material when you’re feeling cheerful. So if you have a test coming up and you’re panicking, find a quiet room to study in, and play your favorite tunes to calm your mind and get it in the mood for studying.

Higher Grades in Music can Result in Higher Grades in Math

If you think a musically-inclined person isn’t likely to be a math wizard, you’d be surprised to find out that there is a predictive relationship between high music grades and high mathematics achievement. Such was found in a study authored by Peter Gouzouasis, professor of music education at the University of British Columbia, and his colleagues. Students who received stellar marks in their music classes tended to perform better at math as well. High-scoring math students, however, didn’t necessarily excel in music, suggesting that the latter was doing something unique to the brain that helps students achieve higher.

Therefore, if you’ve been dreaming of taking piano lessons or courses, but are having second thoughts because it might hinder your studies, this is the sign that you should take the leap. As long as you manage your time well, your piano lessons won’t be a hindrance, and you may even end the semester being among the top-performing students in math.

Musicians Have a Better Brain Structure

playing guitar

Brain scans of musicians showed that their corpus callosum — the nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain — is bigger than that of non-musicians. In addition, the parts in charge of movement, hearing, and visuospatial activities are also found to be larger in professional keyboard players.

Studies of these brain scans initially didn’t find if these differences were caused by musical training, or if they predisposed certain individuals to become musicians. But ultimately, longitudinal studies revealed that children who train in music for 14 months exhibited more powerful structural and functional brain changes.

Simply put, it has been proven that learning a musical instrument improves your brain structure, and thus helps you excel academically. Such happens because listening to music or playing an instrument exercises your brain. Think of it like working out your muscles. Lifting weights or doing cardio improves your strength. The brain is the same; exercise it, and its cognitive function will improve.

So in the next semester, consider music lessons if your other methods of studying hardly work. That way, you can end the school year with flying colors, and with an additional skill that’s fun to brag.

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