By Victor B.
A blur of fingers traipse across the smooth ivory, leaving nothing but the echo of ghostly notes in the air. Two sets of eyes are laser-focused on the piano, boring holes into the wood. The fingers move with precision almost mechanical, eliciting a haunting rendition of Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor from the keys. Grade nine students Victoria Lee and Rebekah Chau are doing what they’ve done since they were eight years old – play the piano.
“Music speaks louder than words,” says Chau. “Especially when I play really loud!”
“It gives you a new level of freedom.” echoes Lee.
With these bright young minds embracing the world of melody, it begs the question – why? “I started because my parents wanted me to – I stayed because I wanted to excel.” says Lee, and the science is there to back her up. In a study conducted by Spring and many more, music’s effect on various cognitive functions is decisive. Music has the ability to make one person shake their knee or another bob their head from side to side, subconsciously stimulating the social spectra of the brain. The simple listening pleasure contributes to hard-work, focus and staying on task. Even the ability to help fight off carcinogens and heart disease comes with plugging in those earphones and playing anything from Beethoven to Avenged Sevenfold, depending on your musical palate. Musical genre doesn’t matter, according to Spring, so long as the brain is adequately stimulated by it.
Akin to our school education system, the learning process in musical education includes testing. This testing, done individually in front of a panel of certified instructors, is equivalent or higher than the stress faced when writing an exam in school.
“I study for the [music] tests more than I do for school!” laughs Chau. When faced with a strenuous, challenging situation, whether it be musical or educational, the brain’s response is one and the same. Similarly to exercise, working your brain repetitively makes it perform better. This is reflected in all aspects of life; stress management is an oft-used tool, and the practice of it makes you that much more prepared for whatever comes your way.
Conclusively proven by researchers, musicians and students alike, music has nothing but benefits on our mind and soul. Maybe the next time you’re alone reading a book, surfing the web, or, somewhere down the road, maybe raising a child, consider popping open the old cassette player – who knows, you could be a Mozart yourself.