We all know that music heals, uplifts and unites, but what happens to those who have never taken up music in their lives? Do they have to miss out on the soul soothing, healing effects of music just because they discovered their passion in their later years?

Time and time again, great musicians like Pat Martino have shown the world that it never is too late to learn music. Martino lost almost all his memory after having a brain aneurysm in the 1970s, but he reversed much of the damage by re-learning to play the guitar!

Research has pointed to the astounding effects of learning an instrument; one study carried out by the Radiological Society of North America found that taking music lessons increases brain fiber connections in children, which is why music is such an important part of learning. Sadly, those born before these discoveries were made may have missed out on a musical education because they thought they "just weren't musically inclined."

Music and Mature Minds

If you have always dreamed of mastering the piano, violin or saxophone, by all means, make a start. These days, doctors are recommending that older people take up a musical instrument to keep their brain young; much in the way that brain games enhance important skills such as problem solving and creativity, music, too, can keep the brain sharp, staving off memory loss and dementia.

In one study conducted at Baycrest Health Sciences, researchers recommended that music lessons form part of prevention programs to help keep conditions like Alzheimer's at bay.

Music and Mood

If you need a little inspiration before your first lesson, just listen to your favorite band or better yet, enjoy a classical music concert. Research carried out at the University of Helsinki found that simply listening to classical music has powerful effects on brain function. Music by masters like Mozart or Beethoven increases our (feel-good hormone) dopamine levels and helps keep our neurons healthy. Another study showed that music lights up the whole brain, since it demands that we process so many aspects - including tonality, rhythm, and timbre.

There has never been a time like now to learn or, at the very least, listen to music. Those who believe it is one of life's great treasures will often speak of music's transformative power and its ability to soothe pain and lift our mood. Science has backed what we already instinctively knew - music is an exciting light party for your whole brain, regardless of how old you are when you first allow its magic to take over your heart and soul!!

-Sally Writes - MU Columnist

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