Can Violin Lessons Improve Cognitive Skills

violin lessons

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Did you know that playing an instrument strengthens your memory by making you use both sides of your brain? In addition, research has found that playing an instrument can enhance spatial reasoning, verbal memory, and literacy skills. 

With those benefits, there’s no denying that playing an instrument is a good choice whether you’re an adult or a child. 

If you’re interested in picking up the violin, keep reading to learn how violin lessons can benefit you. 

History of the Violin

The violin has been around for a long time. The oldest ancestor to it actually dates back to 5000 BCE in Sri Lanka.

This instrument was called a ravanastron. It had one 22-inch string, and this string spanned three octaves. 

While you will find historical stringed instruments in many countries by many names, it wasn’t until around 1520 that the modern violin came into play. 

Its roots go back to Italy, where you can find paintings depicting it. There’s a mural from 1535 that depicts a violin in the Saronno Catherdral. 

The nearby area was a great place for the development of the violin due to the wood in the area that was good for instrument making. The first high-quality violins were made by luthiers in Brescia. 

When the 16th century hit, the violin’s design was standardized. It’s believed that this occurred because of a need to mass-produce string instruments for orders placed by Catherine de Medici in 1560. 

This is when the fourth string was fixed, and the f-curve became a popular part of the design. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the f-curves shape and dimensions were standardized. 

The violin continued to evolve, and in 1786 the bow was standardized. Changes were made to the tension and balance that allow for more intense bowing techniques. 

The chin rest was added around 1820, and in 1938 the first electronic violin joined the violin scene. 

Can Violin Lessons Improve Cognitive Skills? 

Cognitive skills help you think, learn, read, remember, reason, and pay attention. These skills get divided into nine different categories, and they’re important for school, work, and life. 

The categories consist of: 

  • Sustained attention
  • Selective attention
  • Divided attention
  • Long-term memory
  • Working memory
  • Logic and reasoning
  • Auditory processing
  • Visual processing
  • Processing speed

These skills are needed for success, and each skill helps to process new information too.

It’s essential to strengthen your cognitive skills so you can grasp, retain, and use the information that comes your way. If you’re struggling with cognitive skills, you can see that reflected in your ability to learn. 

Playing the violin has the advantage of helping to improve cognitive skills and helping prevent decline. 

How Violin Lessons Improve Cognitive Skills

Why should you play the violin to improve cognitive skills versus using other methods? There are tons of brain training games out there that state they help improve cognitive skills. However, playing the violin allows you to get away from a screen and move. 

Consider it from this perspective, sitting in front of a screen burns around 72 calories per hour. But, playing the violin for one hour more than doubles that and burns around 175 calories

The violin helps improve cognitive skills in a variety of ways. 

Promotes Creativity 

Creativity is an essential part of your cognitive function. It helps to develop thinking skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and concentration. 

Playing an instrument promotes creativity and allows you to practice those critical thinking skills. However, it also has an impact on how your brain is functioning when you practice. 

When you practice a musical instrument, you increase your brain volume and strengthen the connection between different areas of the brain. Playing an instrument also changes how your brain integrates and interprets sensory information. This is especially true in children under the age of seven. 

As you age, it’s crucial to participate in activities that promote creativity for continued brain health. 

Encourage Social Connectedness

Did you know that feeling lonely can speed up cognitive decline? If Covid taught us anything, it’s the importance of social connection. 

Playing the violin and taking lessons can help to encourage social connectedness. It gives you the opportunity to connect with your instructor even if you’re taking online violin lessons. 

However, you can join orchestras or other groups when you learn the violin. This helps increase that connection even more as you play with other musicians. 

Reduce Chronic Stress

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Chronic stress has consistently been linked with poor cognitive function and accelerated cognitive decline. When you’re under a lot of stress, you need a place to channel that energy. 

Instrumental music is well known for helping with stress, but can playing an instrument have the same effect? Yes! 

When you’re playing an instrument, you can channel your stress and emotions into your music. It provides a peaceful retreat, and your mental health improves. 

However, playing an instrument doesn’t just help with stress. It also helps with other mental health conditions that could impact your cognitive skills. 

Openness to Experience

Your brain may not be a muscle, but it needs exercise to stay healthy like the rest of your body. Learning new skills is an exercise for your brain. Exercising your brain helps improve cognitive skills like attention to detail, concentration, memory recall, and problem-solving. 

It can also help reduce the risk of dementia later in life. You’re constantly learning new songs and new music and skills when you take violin lessons. 

Memorization

Memory is a cognitive skill, and memory training can help prevent cognitive decline. However, not many people would enjoy sitting down and memorizing something for no reason. 

There are different aspects of memory used in violin lessons. You memorize the notes and how to play them. As you play more and more, you can memorize the music so you can play without it. 

However, it’s not just memorizing notes and songs. You promote muscle memory, too, when playing the violin. Muscle memory helps you to play notes correctly on the fingerboard. 

You memorize through repetition. The repetition creates new neural pathways that help increase the functioning of your brain in the memory and processing area. 

Practice Focusing

Focusing is another important cognitive skill. It’s hard to be successful or get anything done if you don’t have the ability to focus. 

Violin lessons give you the perfect opportunity to practice focusing. When you’re learning notes and playing them, you have to focus on where your hands should be; you also have to focus on the notes to determine what note you should be playing next. 

It forces you to practice focusing; however, it’s a lot more fun than trying to focus on a screen. You can also improve your focus by engaging more senses, like sound. 

Why the Violin? 

There are many instruments you can play that provide similar benefits. So, what helps the violin stand out? 

Playing the violin has fantastic benefits when it comes to increasing cognitive function and preventing cognitive decline. However, those aren’t the only benefits of music lessons for the violin. We have some more that indirectly relate back to cognitive function. 

Improve Posture

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When you hold your violin, you have to engage your core. To correctly engage your core, you need good posture. 

Bad posture can lead to pain and other problems in your life, and as you practice your posture while playing the violin, you will notice that your posture improves in other areas. Good posture helps you balance and helps keep your back healthy. 

You can participate in physical activity with a healthy body, which is also great for cognitive functioning. 

Versatility

Violins are versatile. This opens many doors for groups you can play with and places you can play. 

This will continue to help you increase your social connections. Also, if you’re worried that you will be stuck playing Mozart, rest assured that the violin is often used in pop, hip hop, rap, and other musical genres. 

Challenge Your Dexterity

Playing the violin challenges your dexterity. With one hand, you have to press on the fingerboard to create notes. In addition, with the other hand, you have to bow over different strings at different speeds. 

This can often be challenging, and it presents another opportunity to exercise your brain. 

Start Violin Lessons Today

Violin lessons are fun and have the added benefit of helping to improve cognitive function. You don’t have to be young to start playing. Whether you’re an adult or a child, you will experience the benefits. 

Are you ready to find music lessons that will engage your brain? Don’t just search for “violin lessons near me.” Find the best teachers around here. 

Contact us today about our online violin lessons and get started on your musical journey. 

References: 

Psychology Today. 2022. Eight Habits That Improve Cognitive Function. [online] Available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201403/eight-habits-improve-cognitive-function> [Accessed 13 May 2022].

Scott, S., Graham-Engeland, J., Engeland, C., Smyth, J., Almeida, D., Katz, M., Lipton, R., Mogle, J., Munoz, E., Ram, N. and Sliwinski, M., 2015. The Effects of Stress on Cognitive Aging, Physiology and Emotion (ESCAPE) Project. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1).

Site designed and developed bka interactive ltd, N., 2022. Learning new things – the benefits | Health Navigator NZ. [online] Health Navigator New Zealand. Available at: <https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/healthy-living/l/learning-new-things-the-benefits/#:~:text=When%20you%20learn%20something%20new,the%20chance%20of%20developing%20dementia.> [Accessed 13 May 2022].

Healthline. 2022. Study Links Loneliness with Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health-news/study-links-loneliness-with-cognitive-decline-in-older-adults-072015#:~:text=New%20research%20finds%20that%20feeling,decline%20at%20a%20quicker%20rate.> [Accessed 13 May 2022].

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