There is substantial evidence from various scientific studies indicating that playing a musical instrument can enhance cognitive abilities and increase IQ levels.

Lothian Birth Cohort Study

A study published in "Psychological Science" analyzed data from a longitudinal study of individuals born in 1936 in Scotland. It was found that those who had learned to play a musical instrument showed small but reliable improvements in cognitive abilities over their lifetimes. This study controlled for numerous variables like socioeconomic status, health conditions, and education levels to isolate the effect of musical training (Psychology Today)

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) Study

Another study examined adults with varying levels of musical expertise using the WAIS-III to measure intelligence and executive (plans and makes descisions) functions. The results indicated that individuals with long-term musical practice exhibited higher intelligence and better cognitive performance even after accounting for confounding factors such as personality traits and educational background (Frontiers) .

Improved Academic Skills

Studies have shown that children who learn to play an instrument often perform better academically, particularly in subjects like mathematics and reading. This is due to the enhanced cognitive skills and discipline gained through musical training. (Diabetes) .

Classic FM Study

A study highlighted by Classic FM reported a significant increase in IQ scores among individuals who took up musical training. Participants in this study showed an average IQ increase of up to 10%, surpassing other cognitive-enhancing activities like reading and exercise (Classic FM).

These studies collectively suggest that musical training can lead to improvements in various aspects of cognitive function, contributing to higher IQ scores. The mechanisms behind these benefits include enhanced brain connectivity, improved executive functions, and the engaging nature of musical practice that stimulates multiple brain regions simultaneously.


Playing a musical instrument can enhance IQ and cognitive functions due to several interconnected factors involving brain structure, cognitive processes, and neuroplasticity. Here are some of the key reasons.

Enhanced Brain Connectivity and Neuroplasticity

Playing an instrument requires the integration of multiple brain regions, leading to increased connectivity and enhanced neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. This process is critical for learning and adapting to new experiences. There's synaptic neuroplasticity (involving changes in the strength of connections between neurons, known as synapses), structural neuroplasticity (growth of new neurons (neurogenesis), the formation of new synaptic connections, and the pruning of unused synapses) and functional neuroplasticity (brain's ability to move functions from damaged areas to undamaged areas).

Studies and Evidence: According to a study highlighted by Classic FM, musicians have more connected brains, particularly those who started playing at a young age. The integration of sensory, motor, and auditory systems strengthens the brain's wiring and facilitates better information processing (Classic FM)

Executive Function and Memory Enhancement

Playing an instrument involves complex tasks such as reading music, coordinating hand movements, and maintaining rhythm. These activities engage the brain's executive functions, which include planning, decision-making, and problem-solving. Additionally, musical practice enhances memory by requiring musicians to memorize pieces and sequences.

A study by Penn Medicine noted that playing an instrument engages every major part of the central nervous system, improving executive functions and memory. The study found that musical training can lead to improvements in various cognitive functions even when individuals start learning later in life (Penn Medicine)

Multisensory Integration and Cognitive Flexibility

Musical practice involves the simultaneous processing of auditory, visual, and tactile information. This multisensory integration improves cognitive flexibility, allowing individuals to switch between tasks and adapt to new situations more efficiently.


Playing a musical instrument has been shown to provide numerous benefits for brain health, particularly in reducing the risk of dementia and other neurological disorders. Several studies highlight the cognitive benefits and mechanisms by which musical training can help prevent or mitigate these conditions.

Meta-Analysis and Systematic Reviews

A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies found an inverse association between playing a musical instrument and the risk of dementia among older adults. The analysis suggested that engaging in musical activities can enrich cognitive reserve, enhance executive functioning, stimulate brain plasticity, reduce stress, and foster social cohesion, all of which contribute to lowering dementia risk. (BioMed Central)

Cognitive and Neural Benefits

Playing an instrument involves complex neural processes that engage multiple brain regions, enhancing neuroplasticity. This includes improved auditory processing, cognitive control, and executive functions. Regular musical practice can lead to structural changes in the brain, such as increased volume in areas related to auditory processing and motor control, which are crucial for maintaining cognitive functions in the elderly (Neuroscience News)

Long-term Benefits

Longitudinal studies have shown that musical training can have lasting positive effects on brain health. For example, musicians are found to have greater cognitive reserves, which help them better cope with age-related brain changes. This increased cognitive reserve is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and other neurological conditions (Practical Neurology)

Overall, the evidence suggests that playing a musical instrument is a powerful tool for maintaining cognitive health and reducing the risk of dementia and other neurological disorders. These findings underscore the importance of promoting musical activities as part of a comprehensive approach to healthy aging.


Playing a musical instrument has been scientifically shown to reduce stress and anxiety through several mechanisms, backed by multiple studies.

Reduction in Cortisol Levels

Music activities, including playing an instrument, have been found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels are associated with increased stress, so lowering these levels can help mitigate stress responses. A study by the American Psychological Association highlighted that playing music increases the body's production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and lymphocyte cells, which attack invading viruses and boost the immune system's effectiveness, contributing to stress reduction. (American Psychological Association)

Improved Mood and Emotional Regulation - Increase in Endorphins

Learning to play an instrument has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Engaging in musical activities triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals, which enhance mood and promote a sense of well-being. A study conducted by the University of Bath found that beginners who took piano lessons for one hour a week over 11 weeks exhibited significant improvements in mood and reductions in stress and anxiety levels compared to those who did not receive music training. (Neuroscience News)

Enhanced Cognitive and Emotional Processing

Playing an instrument involves complex brain functions that engage multiple regions associated with emotional and cognitive processing. This engagement can enhance emotional regulation and provide a sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy, which are important for managing anxiety and stress. Research indicates that musicians often have enhanced audio-visual processing and emotion recognition, contributing to better stress management (Neuroscience News)

Therapeutic Effects of Music Interventions

Music therapy, which often includes playing instruments, has been widely used to treat anxiety and depression. Music interventions have shown significant benefits in improving mental health, as effective as other therapeutic activities like exercise. These interventions help in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, improving emotional well-being, and providing a therapeutic outlet for expression and relaxation (Diabetes)

Social Interaction and Support

Playing music in a group setting or participating in musical activities can enhance social interaction, which is a key factor in reducing stress and anxiety. Social support and engagement in enjoyable group activities contribute to a sense of belonging and emotional support, which are crucial for managing stress. (Alzheimer's Research Foundation)

In conclusion, playing a musical instrument can effectively reduce stress and anxiety by lowering cortisol levels, improving mood, enhancing cognitive and emotional processing, providing therapeutic benefits, and fostering social interaction. These findings underscore the importance of incorporating musical activities into daily routines for mental health benefits.


Playing a musical instrument can profoundly enrich someone's life in various ways, impacting cognitive, emotional, social, and even physical aspects. Here’s some areas we haven't covered already.


Playing an instrument can induce a state of flow, a form of mindfulness where individuals are fully immersed in an activity. This helps reduce negative thoughts and improves mental clarity (Neuroscience News)

Growth Mindset

Learning an instrument encourages lifelong learning and intellectual curiosity. It promotes continuous personal growth and the pursuit of mastery in an art form. (Neuroscience News)

Creativity and Self Expression

Learning to improvise on an instrument can boost creativity and enhance problem-solving abilities in other areas of life. Music allows for creative expression, enabling individuals to convey emotions and ideas in unique ways. This creative outlet is essential for mental health and personal fulfillment. (Neuroscience News)

Piano Melody App

A simple app where anyone with an Android or iPhone can learn to play the most famous melodies has been played by 1 in 270 people on this planet. That's a lot of lives enriched! Piano Melody (Android) Piano Melody (iPhone)

Playing a musical instrument enriches life by enhancing cognitive functions, reducing stress, improving mental health, fostering social connections, and offering an outlet for creativity and self-expression. It provides lifelong benefits that contribute to overall well-being and personal growth. These findings are supported by extensive research and highlight the multifaceted value of engaging in musical activities.