Music Therapy

How playing piano makes you more successful in life

Happy man standing on a mountain

Did you know that when you’re learning to play the piano you are actually improving several skills that will help you be more successful in other areas such as university or work? In fact, multiple studies link the study of music to increased success in other fields, as this article from the New York Times points out.

So what is it that makes musicians more successful in life? Here is a list of six essential skills that you will master by practicing the piano:

1. Playing the piano sharpens your concentration

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When you’re playing the piano, you have to focus on the rhythm, pitch, tempo, note duration, and several other things. Even though your’re doing something you acutally enjoy, this is really a multi-level concentration exercise.

In fact, studies have shown that every time a musicians picks up his or her instrument, there are fireworks going on in his or her brain (for more information, see this Ted Lesson). Playing an musical instrument is perhaps the only activity during which almost all brain areas are simultaneously activated.

2. Playing the piano teaches you perseverance

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Learning new songs on the piano takes time and effort. Until you can actually play a song fluently by heart, you’ll probably spend several weeks practicing it. As you look forward to being able to play the song, you stay motivated, learn patience, and increase your perseverance. These skills will always help you when you are confronted with difficult tasks at school, university, or at work.

3. Playing the piano teaches you discipline

Playing the piano can be quite challenging. However, practicing frequently and working hard will not only teach you perseverance, but also discipline. Consider the parts of the song you will have to practice over and over again. There is one “magic key” to successfully playing the piano (and yes, I will share it with you, just like that): practice, practice, practice.

Practicing regularly requires discipline. Maybe at the beginning it will be harder for you. Maybe you have to come up with some little treats to get yourself there. However, slowly but surely, you’ll get used to it and being disciplined about your practice time won’t be hard at all

4. Playing piano improves your time management skills

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Many of us have quite busy schedules. Unfortunately, scientists haven’t found a way to make one day last more than 24 hours yet. So to get all your activities and duties done, you need to organize them. When you get used to practicing regularly, you also learn how to use your time efficiently and how you can use a 20-minute time slot for a quick piano lesson.

5. Playing the piano improves your emotional intelligence

Playing the piano enhances your listening skills. These are also very important when you interact with other people. Emotions are not only expressed by facial expressions and body language, but also by the tone of voice, the speed of speech, and the melody of speech. People who play an instrument are better listeners, and it is not surprising that studies have actually revealed that musicians are more perceptive in interpreting the emotions of others.

6. Playing the piano increases your memory capacity

voller Stundenplan

Playing the piano stimulates your brain. While you learn and play songs, the stimulated areas of your brain become larger and therefore more active. The areas that are responsible for the storage of audio information, particularly, are more developed in musicians then in non-musicians.

So when you play the piano, your ability to memorize audio information increases. The chance of saying something like: “I’m sorry! Maybe you told me, but I really don’t remember…” most likely will occur less often.

Isn’t it amazing what playing the piano can do for you? If you’ve always been looking for an excuse to pick up that tricky piano, well, here — now you’ve got more than one. 🙂

10 Songs Steve Jobs Used to Train His Brain

 

 

Steve Jobs probably used these recordings to alter his mental state, change his moods, and keep himself creative.

Music is many things to many people, but to entrepreneurs it can be an essential success tool. According to Dr. Victoria Williamson of Goldsmith’s College, London, “Brain imaging studies have shown that various parts of the brain may be activated by a piece of music.”

In other words, you can use specific pieces of music to “program” your brain to think and feel in specific ways.

Not long before his untimely death, Steve Jobs accidentally revealed his favorite musicduring a product demonstration. Since Jobs used meditation to get creative, it’s highly likely he also used music to alter his moods and states of consciousness.

With that in mind, here are the iconic songs that inspired Steve Jobs and might inspire you, too:

1. “Imagine” (John Lennon)

Jobs believed that his products would and could make the world a better place, so is it any surprise that he was inspired by Lennon’s utopian masterpiece?

 

 

2. “Hard Headed Woman” (Cat Stevens)

This song probably triggered the emotions of support and respect that Jobs associated his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, an executive and philanthropist in her own right.

3. “Highway 61 Revisited” (Bob Dylan)

This quick-paced, irony-laced number perfectly captures the wry humor that Jobs exhibited when presenting his “insanely great” products to the world.

4. The Goldberg Variations (J.S. Bach)

Bach and Jobs were both known for their ability to achieve near-perfect simplicity even when dealing with the complexities of melody or technology (respectively).

5. “Truckin'” (The Grateful Dead)

Like most high tech executives, Steve Jobs often traveled on business. This song might well have inspired Jobs to remain creative during the “long strange trip it’s been.”

6. “Late for the Sky” (Jackson Browne)

This thoughtful ballad speaks of lost opportunities and making the most of your life. Perhaps Jobs used this song to gain balance and perspective during difficult times.

7. “Blue in Green” (Miles Davis)

This classic number by the world’s greatest jazz trumpeter is the perfect music to get your mind relaxed and calmed after a long, hard day at work.

 

8. “Beast of Burden” (The Rolling Stones)

The classic Stones tune is about remaining an individual despite outside pressure to be something that you’re not.

 

9.”Won’t Get Fooled Again” (The Who)

Job made mistakes in his career but (significantly) never made the same mistake twice. With that in mind, this might have been his business strategy them song.

10. “Blowin’ in the Wind” (Peter, Paul & Mary)

If Lennon’s “Imagine” represented the world as Jobs would have liked it to be, this song (written by Bob Dylan) no doubt reminded him of what still remained to be accomplished.

Why are musicians more likely to suffer from depression?

Creative artists are fifth in the top 10 professions with high rates of depressive illness. But does depression attract them to the job? Or does the job make them depressed?

Health.com recently published a top 10 of professions with the highest rate of depression– one chart most artists wouldn’t want to be on. However, people working in the arts are fifth most likely to suffer from depression, with around 9% of them reporting a major depressive episode in the previous year. It appears carving out a career as a musician isn’t just perilous when it comes to earning a living – it can also cause damage to your physical and mental health. Musicians supplementing their income by waiting tables would rate even higher on the chart, as food service staff are second most prone to depression.

You know it the second you hear the first notes. It’s that one special song that makes your spine tingle. You can feel the tears welling up in your eyes.

How does that happen? Only seven notes can come together to form a soul-moving melody that can break your heart, make you cry, and bring back buried, long-forgotten memories.

Music is powerful.

 

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1. Music helps you work through your problems

Often during your darkest nights, you can’t find a way through the muddy alleyways of your mind. Good news! Don’t just lie there, turn on Google play and let the music flow into you. If you cry, that’s OK. Tears represent feelings that must be expressed. Feeling is healing.

Music helps you express your emotions. It’s melodic encouragement that helps you let go of suppressed feelings. A study published in the British Journal showed that music is cathartic, especially drumming. You didn’t need a medical study to prove that. You discovered that yourself when you were a 4 year-old banging on your mother’s pots and pans.

2. Music inspires creativity

Do you need to write a blog, run faster on the treadmill, or design a new website but can’t because you’re feeling uninspired? Pump up the jam. Music will motivate you. Go ahead, try to sit still while listening to Avicii sing Wake Me Up, it’s just not possible.

Finnish researchers found that the mind-wandering mode goes into action when your brain processes a song, thus inspiring creativity. These rewards don’t only happen to artists: Techies also benefit from the relaxing effect of music.

Professor Gold (one of the Finnish researchers) who conducted the study said, “Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care including medication, psychotherapy and counseling, helps people to improve their levels of depression and anxiety. Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a non-verbal way – even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences.”

3. Music affects your breathing

Music has the power to speed up your heartbeats or slow down your breathing. Musicians beware! You respond differently than the rest of us.

Anyone can feel the music. Your foot starts tapping as your body sways from side to side. Who hasn’t been to a concert when you felt the bass beating in your chest? There is scientific proof behind it.

A slow, meditative tempo has a relaxing effect slowing your heart rate and breathing while faster music with an upbeat tempo speeds up your heart rate and respiration.

You are can be in charge of your body, simply by choosing which songs you listen to. Next time you’re feeling anxious, when your heart starts to race, grab your headset and listen to Zen Garden.

4. Music can reduce blood pressure

Here’s the prescription: Listen to classical, Celtic or reggae music 30 minutes a day to lower your blood pressure. According to the American Society of Hypertension, research shows this simple prescription might significantly reduce high blood pressure.

In a report from Dr. Peter Sleight at the University of Oxford, research has shown “music can alleviate stress, improve athletic performance, improve movement in neurologically impaired patients with stroke or Parkinson’s disease, and even boost milk production in cattle.”

Don’t throw away your medication yet, but music is certainly an easier pill to take.


5. Music is used to treat addiction

Music therapy can be of great value in treating addiction. It is certainly not enough by itself to help someone recover from substance abuse, but it can be a useful tool in the treatment process.

Addiction is a painful disease that affects the entire family and circle of friends. Making the decision to enter rehab is the first step towards recovery. Help is available and new methods of treatment are continually being discovered.

Thamkrabok is a Buddhist temple in Thailand offering free treatment to for addiction. Music plays an important role at the temple because of its therapeutic powers. The monks of Thamkrabok even have their own recording studio.  Tim Arnold, the UK musician made a whole album there.

Sobriety is an emotional roller coaster. Music (either playing it or listening to it) may help people get rid of some of their destructive emotions.

6. Music might prevent suicide

The sound of music is incredibly powerful. It can even prevent suicide.

IN 1997, DMC aka Darrell McDaniels, of Run DMC, was at the top of the charts. While touring he fell into a negative downward spiral, thinking Is this all there is?

He was serious. At that moment, he made a decision to commit suicide when he got home.

Staring at the walls in a cold hotel room, Sarah McLachlan’s song “Angel” came on the radio. You know it’s power. It makes you cry and want to run out and adopt one of those sad animals in the SPCA commercial.

It’s hard to believe, but that song changed his suicide plan. He became a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan. Soon after, he found out he was adopted, which gave his life new meaning.

After DMC trashed his suicide plan, he made a new plan to use his music and fame to decided to promote adoption and help foster kids. He even made a documentary to promote his worthy cause.

7. Music in the operating room

Did you know doctors have a specific playlist for different types of surgery?

 Anthony Youn, M.D. cites a study published in “Surgical Endoscopy” that found classical music affected surgeons more positively than hard rock or heavy metal.

Oddly, another study published by “Surgical Innovation” noted surgeons’ performances benefitted most from hip-hop and reggae the music. Go figure!

Dr. Youn says, “It probably comes down to taste, with surgeons finding comfort and inspiration working to the music they like to hear.”

Doctors aren’t the only ones affected. Several studies show that patients appear more relaxed, require less anesthesia, and recover quicker when physicians play tunes in the OR.

Nearly 80% of operating room support staff believed music had a positive effect on their work as well. I wonder if the remaining 20% wear noise-cancelling headphones.

Who knows what the future of the OR will bring? Maybe there’ll be a DJ taking requests for your favorite spins.

8.  Music reduces pain

Whether it’s Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, or Jason Mraz, the lyrics and melodies they write and sing can be effective therapy for managing pain. According to a paper in the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing, listening to music can reduce chronic pain from a range of painful conditions, including osteoarthritis, disc problems and rheumatoid arthritis, by up to 21%. That’s a lot when you’re hurting.

Music is a distraction that gives the patient a sense of control. Music causes the body to release endorphins, which counteract pain.

9. Music jars your memory

Beware: Handle music with care. Some songs put you in a time machine and set you back to painful times. Hopefully, when you get there, you will remember the lessons you learned, see how much you have grown and how much better you are doing since leaving those sad times behind you. Leaving those memories allows you to open your heart to new adventures.

So next time you make your playlist, choose carefully, those songs are going deep into your soul. They might inspire you to create a new start-up, stop drinking so much, become a triathete, or fall in love.

There’s no doubt about it. Those seven notes can change your life.