Robert Estrin - piano expert

Can Playing the Piano Make You Smarter?

Discover the truth behind this statement

In this video, Robert answers a simple question: can playing the piano make you smarter? Watch the video to find out!

Released on January 8, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Robert Estrin at, your online piano store, with a question: Does playing the piano make you smarter? Boy, I hope so. I've been playing a long time, and I wonder, what would I be like if I didn't play the piano? But this is a serious question. And indeed, there have been studies. The famous Gordon Shaw, Rauscher studies at UC Irvine showed that, indeed, with a control group of people studying the piano, studying computers, and a control group that they did nothing with, of children, showed an increase in math and science, and even English scores.

Now, that's exciting to think about. Later on, they even discovered the Mozart effect, which of course there was some controversy about. They actually played Mozart while kids were taking tests, and found that there was a temporary increase in IQ scores just from listening to Mozart while taking tests. Now, "temporary" is the key word here. Later on, their findings were kind of diminished when they found it was just a temporary boost. But that's exciting enough that you can get even a temporary boost from simply listening to Mozart.

Now, why should playing the piano increase your intelligence? Well, did you know that simply playing the piano uses more parts of your brain than any other single human activity? This is according to The New York Times, an article years ago about the human brain, of all things, that showed piano playing as the single most complex endeavor of the human mind.

How can this be? Well, think about it. You've got short-term memory, long-term memory, tactile, you've got visual, aural, you've got just about every part of the brain firing. It's a fantastic opportunity to develop your mind. Now, of course, if you play with other musicians, you're developing social skills. It's endless. Just playing music in general is a great way to expand your mind. The discipline of practice, the organization it takes to digest a piece of music, it's an incredible opportunity to explore aspects of your own mind in ways that are richly rewarding. Because at the end of the line, you've got something to show for it. You can play a piece of music, or many pieces of music.

So as if that isn't enough of a reason to play the piano, being able to increase your intelligence, my gosh, everyone should study the piano. Don't you think? Let me know what you think. I wonder how many of you are on board. I guess if you're watching this, I might have skewed results because people looking to watch this might already feel that way. But there are studies that actually prove an increase in intelligence just from playing the piano. So go for it. Spend more time with a piano, and your brain will thank you.

Once again, this is Robert Estrin at I appreciate you joining me here. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Fulvia * VSM MEMBER * on January 8, 2020 @5:00 pm PST
I think that learning any instrument at a very young age is beneficial to increase brain activity. But I also think that instruments which require different motions with each hand is even more beneficial, think of learning to read different notes for each hand. I am starting to think that organist must have a genius IQ, having to use also their feet and pull the stops while they are playing.
Robert - host, on January 11, 2020 @2:11 pm PST
While it's true that organists must have dexterity of their feet beyond what playing the piano requires, the complexity of having different pressure exerted on each finger on the piano requires extreme motor skills as well.
Sharon Boser on January 8, 2020 @7:42 am PST
I totally agree. Over the years I have read many articles on the positive effects of playing the piano. This information is very intriguing to parents and students. Thank you for your articles. I always look forward to your input
Robert - host, on January 11, 2020 @1:22 pm PST
It's great to have this forum where we can all support music. We're in this together!
John Beach * VSM MEMBER * on January 8, 2020 @6:28 am PST
The increase in mathematical ability, the constant exercise of fractional relationships in time, that the whole of the measure must equal the sum of its parts, the concept of the logic of frequencies of pitch, the fundamentals of hexadecimal bases in organ stops, the multiples of harmonics, all lead to greater proficiency and understanding, making a person smarter. It is truly ironic that most people go through life with a love or appreciation for music, while never really understanding any of the principles of music, other than what they like or believe "sounds" good.
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