Another report on the benefits of music

31st January 2024 | Daily Life, Musings | 1 comment

On Monday there was a report in The Guardian about the benefits of being involved in music. This time it was, ‘Playing a musical instrument or singing is linked to better memory in older age’.

To my delight the next paragraph began, ‘The piano was especially associated with a better brain in those over 40′. Hooray!

But leaving the piano aside, it was clear (once again) that playing and singing are good for our health and well-being. Professor Anne Corbett from Exeter University pointed out, “Overall, we think that being musical could be a way of harnessing the brain’s agility and resilience, known as cognitive reserve. Although more research is needed to investigate this relationship, our findings indicate that promoting musical education would be a valuable part of public health initiatives to promote a protective lifestyle for brain health, as would encouraging older adults to return to music in later life.’

I have lost count of the number of reports which describe the positive effects of music-making on physical health, mental health, children’s powers of concentration, co-ordination, co-operation, mitigating the effects of dementia … need I go on? And yet at the same time we constantly see reports pointing in the opposite direction: music has been dropped from the school curriculum, fewer children are learning instruments, knowledge of historical music is fading, university music departments are closing or being slimmed down. Opera companies, vocal ensembles, orchestras and festivals are losing portions of their funding. People are consuming more and more of their music on digital devices.

In a joined-up society, studies which show the benefits of music for everyone from children to adults with dementia would be taken seriously by governments. There is something maddening about the contradiction between 1) the reports advocating more live music-making in everyone’s lives and 2) the reality: that there is less and less live music-making in our lives. What does it take to get policy-makers to believe these reports and act on them? They should jump at the chance to improve the nation’s well-being in such a positive way.

1 Comment

  1. Mary Cohen

    ‘Only connect’…E.M.Forster got it spot on!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *