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Piano Appassionato

March 22, 2018

When I first took a piano class in college I was nervous, because I had no experience in playing an instrument, and I can’t even sing. I’d been told that it’s harder for adults to learn an instrument, but I surprised myself: I liked it, and made it a habit to practice at least one hour every day. Pretty soon, I noticed some changes in myself, namely a heightened mood and better work in my other classes. I signed up for a second class in piano, and I got 4.0 GPAs both semesters.

I made the correlation that practicing music dramatically improves performance in school. Learning music rewires your brain, not unlike learning a new language. It increases your mental capacities and makes you more alert—or it did for me. My takeaway: stop doubting myself at the beginning of new ventures and see what surprises lie ahead.

Do you play a musical instrument? What has been your experience as to coursework and alertness. If you don’t play, do you think you might give it a try?

Written By:


Kenny Hyland


  • Avatar adelaide says:

    Hey Kenny,

    I’ve always wanted to learn an instrument, I just never had the guts to do it. I always thought I would be bad at it. It’s also interesting how playing an instrument can be a mood enhancer and improve your grades in school. Definitely gotta give it a try.

  • Avatar siobhan says:

    I’m so happy my mom signed me up for piano lessons as a kid. It definitely helped me do well in school, which is always a plus. I kind of let it go the past few years, but now I want to start playing again.

  • Moved by my parents’ encouragement and – increasingly – my own interest and satisfaction, I practiced and played musical instruments continually from 5th grade, when my elementary school decided that as the tallest student (for one year only!), I should be the one to take home the bass fiddle and learn to play it. Then I had piano lessons, learned a little trombone, and then really studied and played violin until I finished high school. A few years later, when I was living in “Bluegrass country”, I started taking bluegrass, Cajun, and Irish fiddle lessons. I loved it because it was mine. I could stay connected to the music and sometime make it sing in a rich, happy fiddle voice. Decades have past, and I’m retired now from my 40-hour day job. In the next room, it awaits me – don’t know if there’s anything else I’m waiting for. . .Soon I’ll see.

  • Hi Kenny,

    I had a similar experience with learning Spanish as an adult. I think it’s really valuable to put yourself in a position where you are a total beginner – it’s humbling and it also made me challenge some “fixed mindset” thoughts I had about my ability to learn new skills. It also helps that learning new and novel skills increases dopamine levels in the brain!

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