Learning a musical instrument

Playing a musical instrument could help with anxiety, behaviour, and attention

The longest study of its kind has shown that musical training could help children to reduce feelings of anxiety, gain a greater control of their emotions and give a stronger focus to their attention.

The study was led by Dr. James Hudziak, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and the participants were part of the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development.

The results of the study were published by the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.  The authors of the study analysed the brain scans of 232 children aged 6-18, and found that playing music altered the behaviour-regulating and motor areas of the brain.


Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/01/07/music-lessons-spur-emotional-and-behavioral-growth-in-children-new-study-says/

Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(14)00578-4/abstract and http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(14)00613-3/abstract

Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287458.php

Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11315500/Children-with-mental-health-issues-should-learn-the-violin.html

Classic FM: http://www.classicfm.com/music-news/latest-news/playing-instrument-helps-children-anxiety/

The Strad: http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/study-finds-musical-training-may-focus-attention-reduce-anxiety-children/


BENEFIT: Behaviour regulation – reduced anxiety
TARGET GROUP: Young people
AGE: 6-18 years
MUSIC TYPE: Learning a musical instrument
TYPE OF STUDY: Academic research
DATE: 2014
PLACE: United States


  1. It stood out to me when you explained that playing an instrument can help children gain better control of their emotions. My son will be starting junior high next year, and I’m a bit worried about his emotional well being because he gets overwhelmed really quickly and at the smallest things. In addition to seeking other help, maybe I’ll look for a home piano lesson teacher for him since we already have that instrument at home.


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