Music soothes and tames. It’s a well-researched saying that listening to Mozart makes babies smarter. Musicians, on the whole, have a lower risk of dementia than the rest of the population.
Music is math, art, science, memory games, dexterity, exercise, counting, breath control, listening, feeling, and so much more. Research is just starting to be done on using music therapy to help people combat dementia.
What researchers really do know is that musician’s brains are different. The connections between long-term and short term memory are closer than average. The ability to recall chunks of data is higher.
Students in school who play music are about 20 points higher in IQ. Babies who listen to classical music read 1-2 years earlier.
While research is lacking to show that listening to music benefits people, playing is different. Over 90% of musicians who have dementia (even so, a small number) still are able to play their instruments and have average recall of event surrounding performances and rehearsals. They will remember their band friends more than non-band family.
Of course, the type matters. The only types of music that show benefit are classical, ethnic, and jazz. Rock, country, blue grass, blues, Christian, pop, and New Age do not show a benefit or a detriment. Rock, punk, rap, R&B, alternative, hip hop and heavy metal music genres actually are shown to make people dumber and increase brain damage.