As if the physical and cognitive benefits of regular piano playing were not enough, studies also show that time at the keyboard offers emotional advantages, as well. In fact, research reveals that those who are involved in creating music on a regular basis experience less anxiety, loneliness and depression.
Barry Bittman, MD, of the Body-Mind Wellness Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, created a study to gauge stress levels among 32 volunteers. The volunteers were put through a stress-inducing activity—attempting to assemble a difficult puzzle while incentivized by a monetary prize—and then were told to “relax” afterward using a variety of different methods, including reading magazines and playing keyboards. The volunteers also gave blood during the study, and the blood was tested for the activity of 45 stress-related genes. In the group that played keyboard to relax, the results showed a significantly higher reversal in the markers for stress-related genes than in the other groups.
“With ongoing research,” Bittman concludes, “recreational music-making could potentially serve as a rational stress-reduction activity, along with other lifestyle strategies that include healthy nutrition and exercise.”
Add to this data the other benefits that come from piano playing—increases in work ethic, diligence, creativity, self-reliance and perseverance—and the result is a veritable symphony of good news for your body and your soul. Ready to tickle the ivories?
- Bittman, B. Medical Science Monitor, February 2005; vol 11.
- Calter, M. “Playing the Piano Can Strengthen Fine Motor Skills.”http://www.toptenreviews.com
- Gaynor, M. Sounds of Healing, Broadway Books.
- Schellenberg, E. Psychological Science, August 2004; vol 15.