It has been shown that musicians potentially have differently developed brains then others. Anatomists are actually able to identify the brain of a musician pretty easily over the brains of other types of individuals. Allegedly, extensive musical training can actually reorganize the brain, so that all the developed skills needed to recall the playback of musical passages on an instrument can also be utilized in things like verbal memory. Musicians’ brains also tend to be more adept with spatial reasoning, literary skills, and problem-solving.
If a musician’s brain is working differently than others and perhaps even a bit more sharp, how does one keep it that way? Some methods include meditation/yoga, engaging with other artistic mediums, listening to and working with other kinds of music, and eating healthy.
Yoga & Meditation
When working on music, it is important to be able to keep the mind alert and fresh. Breaks to meditate or practice yoga throughout the day while working on your next musical opus can greatly help your ability to concentrate. Closing your eyes and being still while standing, sitting, or lying on the floor while implementing good posture can assist in fatigue as well as help re-establish proper energy flow in the body. An asana yoga practice at home is also ideal for these things. Here are some yoga pose suggestions. from a long-time musician and yoga practitioner.
Digging Into Other Mediums While Keeping Away From Television
When you are away from your instrument, it is ideal to keep as mindfully engaged as you can be. That means to try to avoid simply watching television as much as you can! Studies have shown that television does things like lower verbal reasoning ability while reading a book actually increases connectivity in the language-related parts of the brain. Being that music is a language, could it stand to reason that while you are reading, you are strengthening parts of your brain that help you make music–without even making music?
Watching foreign films is an activity that requires multiple brain functions at once (like playing music does), so it is good exercise for the mind when you are away from your instrument (while just being rewarding in its own right). Sitting down to enjoy a foreign film requires you to not only take in what is happening in front of you visually, but also read the subtitles that are happening on the screen. This actually takes some brain activity where merely watching a mainstream TV show does not. It also can help expose you to other cultures, ideas, even other kinds of music! These are all benefits that you can bring back to your playing, keeping yourself inspired.
Listening To Other Kinds Of Music
As a musician, you are bound to hit a slump. When practicing the same chords, rhythms and songs, it can be easy to get disengaged. A great remedy for this is to listen to a kind of music you are unfamiliar with. Take it in just for the enjoyment of it, but then try to pick apart the various components and see how one might incorporate elements of it into what you are doing musically.
Start The Day By Eating Well
The old adage “you are what you eat” extends to musicians too! Eating well as a musician is vital since it is an activity that takes a lot of brainpower, yet with a touring musician’s (for example) schedule, this is an aspect of musical wellness that is often ignored. Starting the day with nutrient-rich food that doesn’t weigh you down (such as a plant based breakfast) is an ideal method to keep a musician mentally alert for the day ahead.
There are so many more things one can do as a musician to stay mentally acute, but hopefully this acts as a helpful primer.