Studies of a Musician’s Mind


How Does a Musicians Mind Work ?

I decided to do some research on the inner functions of a musician’s brain. How are they able to hear music before they even play it ? How are they able to be unique in their methods of expression ? How are they able to feel emotion and then express it through their instruments ? How are they able to play and sing at the same time ? Talking about multi-tasking, its more like multi-processing.

The fact is that music changes lives, because it changes your brain.    Repetitious practicing and memorization causes musicians to have skills that alot of people lack.   Special hand motor skills are developed and consequently leads to the differences in hand movements and how their brains function.

New research reveals that trained musicians think differently than those who are not musically talented.  Psychologists from Vanderbilt University found that professionally trained musicians effectively use something called “Divergent thinking” and they also use both the left and right sides of their frontal cortex, more so than the average person.

Whether they are formally trained or just gifted musicians, they have the ability to use Divergent Thinking. They are able to hear music before they play a note ???

Being naturally creative they are able to think “outside of the box”.   Extensive studies showed that creative thinking is part of a musicians everyday life experience.   Not surprising that in these studies, their answers to problem solving  was much different than others.   In one experiment they were asked to identify uses for everyday objects.  The studies showed that, not only did they do well in the word association tests, but they found more creative and general uses for simple household objects.

Studies also proved  that musicians elevated use of both brain hemispheres enables them to play their instruments with both hands independently.   With this skill they are able to read musical symbols (left hemisphere – Language) and then process and interpret it in their own way.  (right hemisphere – creative).     See illustration below

Now…..if music is a universal language, and can cause the brain to adapt over a period of time with practice, can increase motor skills, aid in focusing,  and can increase nervous systems ability  to process emotion in sound, then there is no surprise in music being able to help stroke victims and autism in children.

Music therapy can be used as a tool to help stroke victims regain their speaking abilities.  Neurologists found that although stroke victims suffer from Aphasia (a disorder that disables the patient from speaking), they are able to sing lyrics, even when they have difficulty speaking words.   A speech therapists uses the method of MIT (Melodic Intonation Therapy) by having a patient sing a song while tapping out a rhythm with their left hand. The tapping stimulates the right side of the brain.  Although the left side of the brain is where language derives from, both sides are used in vocal uses, thus helping in the recovery process.

Similar positive responses were found in children that were unable to speak, or suffered from Autism.   Studies have found that music can assist a child in focusing and developing motor skills.   Singing words and phrases to children while using one hand to coordinate movement with a drum,  and showing them a picture of the object helped in increasing their speech.


Just a few examples of how powerful music is,  along with inner makings of a Musicians Mind.

Rhythm Always………

3 Comments on “Studies of a Musician’s Mind

  1. Hey Denise! I really enjoyed your blog very much! Being a drummer/vocalist as well as a parent with an autistic daughter, the info hit the nail right on the head for me. My Daughter Kori has been able to use music as a major tool in her developmental skills…’s really amazing to see how she has progressed over her young years, based upon the power that music has on the brain of an autistic child. As usual, you are right on point….keep doin wat u do…u have my full support as always!

  2. Hi Denise,
    Just taking a look at your blog and found this. Concise, well written and right on point. Having been in the industry for some 30 years always figured musicians thought differently and this explains why in simple terms. Keep up the good work…..

    • Beat of Her Drum by DJLadydrummer – A well-known drummer (Denise Commander Johnson) that has played in the MD,VA, DC area. I have played for many churches, jazz, rock & R&B artists. Was contracted to Nintendo to promote WiiMusic. I demonstrated the virtual drums, as well as 100 other instruments. Currently plays for many local artists as needed. Toured with well known hip hop artist and continues to share the gift of music. Being a musician can be rewarding, but its important to have good habits for success. Discipline and planning is also important when embarking on an unstable market like the music business. Follow your beat and always have constant learning in your schedule and daily routine. You can be successful as a business and do what you LOVE ! Create Music and Don't Miss a BEAT

      Thank you so much for checking out my article Ian. I was inspired from all the typical comments that are made about musicians. It’s scientifically known that we think differently. We aren’t always perceived as being different in our thought process, so I decided to research and write about it !!! Glad you enjoyed.

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