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Brain Health and Music: Why I Decided to Learn to Play the Keyboard

By Cheryl Therrien January 06, 2017 Health and Fitness

I will admit that I have been thinking about my age and my brain lately. What can I do to give my brain the best chance at staying healthy through my later years?

My first thought was of Gabby Giffords. She was shot in the head and one of the tools they used in her initial therapy was music.

Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain. When I began to do research on brain health and music therapy that phrase kept popping up. Researchers have conducted studies that indicate that playing a musical instrument engages both sides of your brain like nothing else can. Watch this TED Talk video to understand this concept.


What once was just theory not that many years ago is now a fact. Music therapy really works. One of the reasons it is good therapy is because it engages both hemispheres of the brain. Listening to music is wonderful, but playing an instrument gives your brain the best benefit.

Music Aids Healing and Brain Health

Music therapy is making huge progress in many areas. Many hospitals and nursing homes are employing musicians to come in and play their instruments. It is amazing how music can sometimes do what even modern medicine cannot.

This article contains an excerpt from “Waking The Spirit” and discusses how music can reach someone when nothing else can. I have read where some caregivers will place headphones on a nursing home resident and play music from an iPod. Those with no previous response to someone speaking to them will change their facial expressions and come alive when they hear the music play.

This page from the American Music Therapy Association contains links for PDFs that contain information on music therapy and the different individual populations where it is being applied. You can find everything from Autism to Alzheimer’s to Special Education. The American Music Therapy Association is a great resource for those who want to learn more about music therapy.

Brain Connections

Music elicits responses like nothing else can. It connects you to memories, events, places and even foods. Because it is not processed in just one main part of the brain, it can connect many areas and types of responses.

If you watched that TED Talk video at the beginning of this article, then you understand the effect that music has on the brain. It only makes sense then that we would want to utilize that tool for our own benefit.

My 2017 Goal

I have elected to learn to play the electronic keyboard in 2017. I had been thinking about it for most of 2016 and decided the desire was not going to subside. With so many tools available now to help me learn to play I am going to take the plunge and do it.

My goal is not to become a concert pianist or to join a band or even to play in public. I want to do it for me. After doing all this research it would appear that my brain will also benefit from me learning to play.

Bonus! I have already lined up an online learning tool that I can use in conjunction with my computer. Plus, the keyboard I have chosen has learning tools built into it.

My husband plays electric guitar and has for many years. He plays on his own and learns new songs to play using YouTube. Who knows? Maybe we will play music together at some point in 2017.

What are you doing to boost your brain health? Are you thinking about learning how to play an instrument in 2017? What instrument did you always want to learn to play as child? How have you seen the power of music and music therapy in your own life? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Cheryl Therrien, aka Geek Grandma, is a self-taught technology enthusiast who enjoys writing and blogging. You can find her books on Amazon. Cheryl currently blogs at MidLife Avenue and provides product reviews on her YouTube channel.

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