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Music and Math Compute: Piano Playing and Performing at Math – By Jane West

“Put your mind to it” is an expression that a child may hear the parent say when working on a mathematical problem. “Practice makes perfect” is another expression, only this one pertains more to the search for a beautiful musical sound. The truth of the matter is that playing the piano (or any musical instrument) increases brainpower when working on mathematical or any other spatial-temporal reasoning problems.

The human brain has two hemispheres, each responsible for various functions. The right side of the brain is responsible for attention, memory, and reasoning, whereas the left side controls analytical thought and cognitive functions such as speech and language. The functioning of the two hemispheres is interdependent. Learning to play the piano creates unique opportunities for the brain to build newer and multiple connections between the two sides of the brain. This strengthened communication of the two hemispheres in turn enhances a student’s performance in math and other analytical or computational fields.

Numerous studies have shown that even listening to music improves cognitive skills. Classical music produces minor and major tones, which activate and “speak to” certain parts of the brain, and this in turn stimulates a balance between the two hemispheres. In many ways, music is math at its core, because there is counting of beats per minute and time signatures, not to mention that it was Pythagoras who observed ratios of sounds and established the very foundations of musical tuning that we use today to a certain extent. And while the overall improvement of cognition and math skills is produced with music making, it is the lesson structure and focused attention combined with the commitment to learning an instrument that also contribute to better aptitude. With proper instructional guidance, piano practice, as an example, forms healthy practice habits. A student learns time management, patience, and fine motor skills as those fingers start to fly over the keys!

Playing music on the piano could be an invaluable tool for parents seeking to help their child succeed in school and in the STEM fields. A wholesome instruction with piano study will enhance academics, and will therefore contribute to the holistic academic background for a student looking to go above and beyond the standard curriculum.

New Tampa Piano and Pedagogy Academy offers the best piano lessons and piano coaching classes in Tampa.

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