Musicians have a keen awareness of the auditory world. Their ability to distinguish and organize tones is the backbone of the musical language they use to communicate. The effects of musical training, however, appear have benefits that reach well beyond melody and rhythm—it also protects from age related hearing loss.
A study published by the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois found that those who learned to play an instrument at an early age and continued to play throughout their lives were able to strengthen two basic functions that commonly decline with age: memory and the ability to hear speech in noise.
Though previous studies have suggested that children with musical training may have learning advantages in the classroom, this study is unique in that it focuses on the effects of musical training on an older age range: individuals age 45–65.
According to the co-author of the study, Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, playing music “fine tunes the nervous system.”
“Music experience bolsters the elements that combat agerelated communication problems,” continued Kraus. “If the materials that you work with are sound, then it is reasonable to suppose that all of your faculties involved with taking it in, holding it in memory, and relating physically to it should be sharpened.”
Though no hearing-specific research exists for those who take up playing an instrument later in life, there have been studies conducted that show a relationship between playing a musical instrument and avoiding the onset of dementia, as well as using music therapy to treat the degenerative disorder itself. Memory recall, positive changes in moods and emotional states, and opportunities to interact socially with others are just a few of the benefits music therapy provides.
Bottom line: making music a part of your life appears to have nothing but positive benefits. For those trained in the musical language, it can keep their minds sharp; and for those who simply love music, it can create feelings of happiness and nostalgia.
Whether you or someone you know plays music, loves to listen to music, or both, protecting the healthy hearing you have is a must. Mention this article and you’ll receive 15% off custom molded ear protection or earbuds. Their specialized fit gives the wearer more comfort, greater protection, and a more satisfying musical experience by cancelling out the frequencies that can damage hearing while highlighting the music you love. Call today to get yours!