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How Playing a Musical Instrument Makes You Smarter

playing musical instruments

Remember the days when you rocked out with your select group of friends in your family's garage pretending to be a musical band? Scientists actually think it's the reason why you passed your high school math classes.


If you've always wanted to play a musical instrument again, even an electric or acoustic guitar, go for it! Researchers found that young children who played musical instruments for a long period of time also experienced a boost in their academic performance. In fact, first graders who had six months of music education and training (plus rhythm and pitch) had better math test grades than those who didn't. They also found that long-term musical training makes the area of your brain used for math larger.

Here are the best musical instruments that boost your brain power:

Acoustic guitar. Unlike other guitars, acoustic guitars are error-sensitive. Every nuance is amplified – so even mistakes you didn't realize you were making will become loud and clear. This means you'll be training your brain extra hard to be more precise and get the rhythm and pitch down exactly. The best part is that nailing it with an acoustic guitar means you'll be a thousand or more times better when you try with an electric guitar!

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Piano. Learning to play the piano is probably the poster child for music boosting intelligence. In fact, they even call the phenomenon the “The Mozart effect” after the famous observation that people who listen to Mozart have boosted brain power. Researchers also found that learning to play the piano and actively playing the piano regularly can help prevent and delay dementia. According to John Hopkins Magazine, playing the piano often requires playing five melodies simultaneously, which challenges your brain a lot more than most other instruments – leading to a bigger brain.

Harp. Stringed instruments, like the harp, are higher in difficulty because you need more coordination and rhythm. This increased difficulty gives your brain and body extra challenges, which results in improved coordination and cognitive abilities.

French horn. According to John Hopkins Magazine and The Guinness Book of World Records, the French horn is one of the hardest instruments to play. It's very hard to find a pitch, which is one of the aspects of musical training that's known to boost your brain power the most.

Give into your urge to rock out again and pick up one of these instruments. It will make you smarter and help prevent dementia when you're older.