For a lot of people, the image of a talented virtuoso conjures up images of pianist in a concert hall, or an expert violinist. However, the double bass is a beautiful and necessary instrument that forms the backbone of any serious orchestra; and a number of emerging studies show that playing it can help your brain, as well.
In this article, I’ll give a quick rundown of some of the major mental and physical benefits that learning and playing the upright bass provides.
1. LEARNING THE BASS CAN HELP YOUR CHILD READ BETTER
The basic premise behind the claim is that musical performance and practice helps expose children to sounds they wouldn’t otherwise have encountered – thus firing the areas of the brain associated with sound processing, and analysis. This is known as “neurophysiological distinction”.
Developing neurophysiological distinction in a young child gives them the tools to tackle complex words and sounds in an academic setting, giving them skills that can aid in all areas of learning, but provide a special significance to reading and writing.
2. THE DOUBLE BASS IS GOOD FOR YOUR MEMORY
This isn’t necessarily a benefit unique to the upright bass, but it is one that it can give you nonetheless. Organized music lessons have a positive effect on overall IQ and general cognitive function. What’s more, the longer you keep at it, the larger the positive effects are. Memory tests administered to a control group and a group who had a musical background indicated a significant score increase in the test subjects who had affiliation with organized music education.
3. PLAYING CAN MAKE YOUR BRAIN HEALTHIER
Playing the bass is a worthwhile pursuit for a number of reasons. Studies performed on developing children showed not just a difference in brain activity, but a physical one as well – those that participated in music showed a significant increase in brain volume, as well. In layman’s terms, the grey matter in the brain is the part responsible for processing information. That means an increase in volume can have benefits such as increased attention span, improved social behavior, and a greater mental acuity and cognitive response time. Grey matter is a sign of a healthy, functioning brain – it’s the part that does the thinking.
4. THE DOUBLE BASS IS GOOD FOR PHYSICAL HEALTH AS WELL
Playing any instrument has elements of good posture and position, but the upright bass may be an instrument where these qualities matter most. Not only is it one of the more physically demanding instruments due to its large size and heavy strings, it also is typically played in an upright, standing position. This makes proper posture essential for learning, and encourages a healthy spinal column and correct vertebrae alignment that carry benefit through one’s entire life.
5. THE BASS CAN OPEN PROFESSIONAL DOORS
The upright bass is a wonderfully dynamic and versatile instrument – professional musicians that learn the double bass have a leg up in the music industry due to the flexibility of the instrument giving it a niche foothold in several different genres. Bassists are always in demand because they are a necessary part of so many different kinds of musical styles – be it jazz groups, live music, recording artists and bands, or symphony orchestras.
6. THE DOUBLE BASS IS GOOD FOR STRESS
This is something that people tend to forget about when weighing the pros and cons of learning a new instrument – doing something you enjoy, especially in a group setting, is very good for you psychologically. It’s one of the reasons that music therapy is often prescribed for behavioral disorders in both children and adults. Participating with others making music is one of mankind’s oldest and most revered pastimes, and for good reason.
If you’ve been considering taking up the double bass, I hope this article has convinced you the positive benefits are absolutely worth it. The bass not only helps your musical ear and body, but helps encourage brain health as well.
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