Practice the violin: rewire your brain!

A gift of violin for your child for the new year!

The gift that violin lessons can offer!  Although we know that music lessons are good for our children, there is proof that lessons are more than good.  Real positive changes take place in the brain of children who take music lessons.

An October 2015 article in Limelight Magazine, reports the results of a study that took place in Finland which says that music can rewire the circuitry of our brain if we practice regularly.

They discovered that practicing actually changes your brain!  Why should you care about the results of this study? It shows that music lessons and practice strengthen your child’s brain, taking advantage of all that the brain can be.

Why they chose this study:

But we should ask also, “Why did the researchers want to do this study?”  The goal of researchers was to find out if the brain can reorganize itself, for example, after an accident with a central nervous system injury.  In that type of injury, the brain is affected so that the individual’s life may be drastically altered.
The researchers were hoping to show that there may be an ability in the brain to reconfigure itself to create alternate pathways.  If this were so, there would be more possibilities for recovery for central nervous system injury patients.  Since musicians’ brains are different, they wanted to use musicians in their study.

Clever Suzuki Violinist

How they did the study:

The question was:  Can training on a musical instrument improve the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain?

~The researchers investigated the effect that listening to music had on 2 parts of the brain.

1. the corpus callosum – a broad band of nerve fibers joining the two hemispheres of the brain.

2.  the two hemispheres – the right and left parts of the brain

~They tested 2 groups by having them listen to music.

1. professional musicians (who would have practiced a lot)

2. people  who had never played music professionally (who would have practiced much less)


People in the study who were musicians had much more robust development in the corpus callosum and in the two hemispheres.

There was more equal activity in the left and right hemispheres of the professional musicians as they listened to the music.

Even when music lessons were limited to fifteen months in childhood, there was an increase in grey matter in the brain for areas involved in motor, auditory, and visuo–spatial processing.

The front of the corpus callosum, which mainly connects motor areas, is larger in individuals who started playing a musical instrument earlier in life.

Music training leads to sensory and motor changes in the brain.  Motor nerves transmit impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles.  The study shows that since the brain is capable of changing, people with central nervous system injuries may recover some abilities.

I find it fascinating that so many studies of the brain focus on musicians.  There is a tremendous impact on the growth and development of the brain when your child takes music lessons.  In an upcoming blog, I will report on studies of the brain of violin players.

“You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Who says we don’t have fun at lessons?

I know someone who does!

Lessons are serious and fun.

A student playing “Lightly Row” with the big black broken glasses and the shiny red nose.

Why not?

I think it’s a guy thing!

“Children learn to smile from their parents.” Shinichi Suzuki