Violin Effect On Brain Processes
By Sagnik Yarlagadda
January 23, 2018
Have you ever
played or heard the violin? Anyone who has heard a melodiously played violin
can easily recognize the sound again and has a remarkable tone and pitch when
played correctly. In fact, the violin is an instrument that can have a positive
effect on the cardiovascular system and help develop ideas in the brain.
As a matter of
fact, musical sounds produced by string instruments, such as the violin, can
impact the cardiovascular system positively. As Pythagoras said, “Every melody
synchronizes the operation of the internal organs… When the melody sounds, its
acoustic field is imposed on the acoustic field, and it turns out that we
experience a certain kind of cell massage.”1 That means that when a
melody is played, our bodies change so they are, in a way, in tune with the
sound/instrument, resulting in a “cell massage.” This allows music to amazingly
be a type of “medicine”. There is also data that can be used to support this
theory. Daniel J. Levitin, a Neuroscientist, musician, and an author with 3
bestselling books, is the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Behavioral
Neuroscience at McGill
University in Montreal, concludes “listening to music increases production of the social
bonding hormone oxytocin and the immune system-boosting antibody immunoglobulin
A, and relaxing music can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” after examining data from a study he conducted. 2 This is
another example of some of the positive effects of music on the body.
Increasing immune system and reducing stress is amazing, you’ve got to admit!
Additionally, the violin is a powerful
instrument that can help the brain develop, helping you finish incomplete ideas
or thoughts. One key example of this is Albert Einstein, who was considered unintelligent
and hopeless in grade school, until he got a violin and “became good at the
violin. Music was the key that helped Albert Einstein become one of the smartest
men who has ever lived”.3 The music stimulated his brain, allowing him
to figure out his problems and equations. It is almost like the violin got rid
of his “Writer’s Block,” so to speak! While this may sound like a myth or a
fantasy, it can be proved with science. The science behind this can be
summarized into: “Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped
by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more
extensive connectivity within the brain….If
your brain is constantly active and being used in as many ways possible, it
allows to an alertness that can act as an ignition for ideas and dreams”.4 That’s
exactly how it worked for Albert. The same occurred for Thomas Jefferson, when
he was writing the Declaration of Independence. When he became stuck on a line,
he played his violin to help him transfer the words from his brain onto the
paper. Playing the violin sparks a creative streak in the player that is
has evidence showing that it can be beneficial to health. In the above study by
Daniel J. Levitin, he explains “Music has been shown to modify heart rate,
respiration rate, perspiration, and other autonomic systems, corroborating anecdotal
reports that many people use music to achieve physical or psychological balance,
grounding, or ‘centeredness’.”5
Music allows people to reduce stress because it produces changes in one’s body,
including slowed heart rate, respiration rate, etc. Stress over a long period
of time may cause destruction of many important processes and tissue in our
body. Also, the hormone that reduces stress can cause negative effects such as
chronic inflammation if left in our body for too long. The study also
highlights “A form of music therapy that combines relaxation techniques and
listening to classical music called Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) was found to
reduce HPA activation in healthy subjects. Two markers of HPA-activation were
found to decrease following GIM, cortisol, and b-endorphin.”6
Essentially, this therapy can reduce pain after extensive medical procedures.
Time and time
again, the violin has proved to be a valuable tool that, when played or heard,
can positively impact the cardiovascular system and help the brain grow many
developing ideas. Everyone deserves a chance to experience these effects and we
are the only ones who can make that a reality.
“How Violin Playing Effects Brain.” Consordini.com. Consordini,
09 Dec. 2015. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
Chanda, Mona Lisa. “The Neurochemistry of
Music.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17.4 (2013): 179-93. Daniellevitin.com.
Daniel Levitin, 2013. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
Kris. “What Is the Impact of Sound and Music on
the Human Brain Waves and the Production of Hormones?” Researchgate.net.
Research Gate, 14 May 2014. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
O’Donnell, Laurence. “Music and the Brain.” Music
and the Brain. Cerebromente, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2017.
2 Chanda, Mona Lisa Page 3
3 O’Donnel, Laurence
5 Chanda, Mona Lisa Page 3
6 Chanda, Mona Lisa Page 3