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The Benefits of Music on Our Brains

Five years ago I took up piano lessons. As a child I took lessons for a few years, but regret letting it go when given the choice (my parents told me I would and they were right!)

I was visiting my parents who have my grandmother's piano. My father hadn't played in nearly 10 years, but we decided to sit down together during a visit. The curved wooded bench with the cushion my mother had upholstered was familiar yet new. My father started playing with such passion and joy, the song I heard 100s of times in my childhood - an enthusiastic version of Swanee River. Then he opened a book of photocopies of music he knew and proceeded to play through the songs, everything from old French love songs to Mozart. I was in awe.

What made this even more impossible to me, his ease of resuming playing, is that my father has vascular dementia. He resumed playing piano early-ish in his disease process, and continues to play daily.

Learning to play in my 40s has been humbling to say the least, and a multi-tiered enriching experience. My motivation was initially seeing the energy and excitement it brought my father. As I started taking lessons I realized what a challenge this is to my middle-aged brain, but can imagine new synapses forming when I finally can play something after days or weeks of practice, that initially seemed impossible. Most of all it brings me joy! A friend was visiting who I hadn't seen in years and he brought his ukulele which he recently learned to play so he can sing to his children. Despite my fumbling along, we played and sang together, lighting us both up.

For more information about playing music and the benefit to our brains: The Benefits of Playing Music Help Your Brain More Than Any Other Activity

And I highly recommend the documentary about the benefits of listening to music for people with Alzheimer's Disease: Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory.

Listen to music that moves you, and even better learn to play!

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