Menu

All That Jazz

By
Photo: Long-lived Jazz Musicians, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko
Photo: Long-lived Jazz Musicians, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko

Long observed: if a great musician's harmful habits and tendencies don't kill them in their youth, they usually live to a very respectable age, maintaining a sharp mind and performing on stage practically until their final days.

However, it should be noted that this applies only to performers of serious and complex music. Over several decades of research, scientists have discovered that playing classical or jazz music is an effective recipe for achieving active longevity. And this phenomenon has a whole range of objective reasons.

Fine Motor Skills - Key to Brain Development

Contemporaries claim that the great violinist Nathan Milstein practiced his fingers almost every spare minute, even when he didn't have a violin with him at the time. This was how he maintained and developed the fine motor skills necessary for playing almost any musical instrument.

It turns out that fine motor skills are useful in everyday life not only for tying shoelaces. In childhood, it helps develop a child's speech and vocabulary, as the centers responsible for speech and finger movements are located close together in the brain.

As life progresses, well-developed fine motor skills contribute to the development of attention, thinking, coordination, observation, imagination, and memory (both visual and motor). In other words, it develops a person's brain, and if brain development continues into adulthood, it can increase lifespan and contribute to ensuring that life is fulfilling.

Continuous Memory Training

A meta-analysis covering 29 studies showed that musicians often have better memory. From their early musical lessons to the end of their lives, musicians constantly memorize significant amounts of new information. This information encompasses a wide variety - texts, visual, auditory, and motor information - engaging the brain's memory resources to the maximum. 


Source: Freepik

Complex Neuronal Connections

Scientists have found that musicians' brains have stronger structural and functional connections. In youth, this allows for a higher IQ than their peers, and in old age, it helps to maintain sharp intellect and age more slowly. Neuronal connections are stronger the earlier a person starts engaging with music.

New neuronal connections at any age mean an increase in quality of life, preservation of interest in life, growth in creativity, and a return of enjoyment from existence. Conversely, the breakdown of neuronal connections leads to emotional burnout, disruption of interaction between different brain areas, and diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Synchronous and Asynchronous Work of Both Hemispheres (Juggling Effect)

Today, with the consequences of traumatic brain injuries, methods have been developed to combat them, such as teaching patients to juggle. It turns out that simultaneous asynchronous and synchronous work of hands during such exercises has an exceptionally positive effect on the brain, increasing both white matter, responsible for connecting the two hemispheres, and gray matter, responsible for coordination and thinking.

During juggling, the brain literally shifts information flows from one hemisphere to another and back. Not to mention the performance of complex music on musical instruments - a musician's hands must act both asynchronously and synchronously. Each hand performs its movements, but they are precisely coordinated in time.

Such brain processes not only develop motor functions. The free exchange of data between brain hemispheres significantly enhances, among other things, information processing ability - for instance, analysis and synthesis processes.

Enhanced Work of Almost All Brain Areas

With age, most people experience a decrease in brain activity intensity. We start to feel like we know everything, have experienced everything, and have answers to any questions. But the brain of a musician performing complex music is fully engaged. It's hard to find an area of the brain that isn't involved in this process.

For example, a jazz musician simultaneously has to remember the theme and harmony of a piece, process complex musical rhythms, keep track of what bandmates are playing, perform coordinated and asynchronous motor functions, and ultimately, in real-time on stage before an audience, create new music - a powerful creative act involving even those brain areas that are less active in most of our "ordinary lives". 

Finding Purpose

Realizing one's purpose and living in harmony with it is one of the main factors that make a person happy. Musicians who play classical or jazz music feel the spiritual importance of their craft and are, as it's often said, "in the flow." During the performance of complex music, individuals focus entirely on their activity, feel inspired, receive feedback from listeners, and understand their significance in this world. These are rare emotions for an office worker to boast about at work, yet they are crucial components of true happiness and a sense of fulfillment in life. Few things contribute to longevity as much as these essential feelings.

Continuous learning, self-improvement, expanding cognitive skills, strengthening neuronal connections, memory development, daily fine motor practice, engaging with like-minded individuals, and feeling recognition from listeners—aren't these reasons enough to start or resume musical pursuits and make one's life long, meaningful, joyful, and loving?

Notable Jazz Longevity Examples


To substantiate this, here's a list of several renowned jazz musicians whose longevity confirms our thesis:

  • Buddy Guy (b. 1936) - Famous blues guitarist and singer, actively touring at the age of 87 and planning 26 concerts in just the next three summer months.

  • Herbie Hancock (b. 1940) - Great jazz pianist, actively performing at 84 years old.

  • Bucky Pizzarelli (1926 - 2020) - Celebrated jazz guitarist, continued performing even after his 90th birthday and passed away at 94 due to complications from COVID-19.

  • Ron Carter (b. 1937) - Eminent jazz double bassist, actively touring at the age of 87 and participated in the recording of 2,221 albums.

  • Wayne Shorter (1933-2023) - Great jazz saxophonist, continued to perform actively until his death at the age of 89.



Recommended

Economics

Compelled Sanctions? Why Not!

05.24.2024 16:36
Politics

Russia Must Pay

05.24.2024 13:49
Life

How to Deter Tourists: Global Experiences

05.24.2024 10:05
Culture

Mad Max Without Mad Max

05.23.2024 15:30
Politics

The ICC Prosecutor's Misguided Symmetry

05.23.2024 09:57

Similar articles

We use cookies to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you've provided to them. Cookie Policy

Outdated Browser
Для комфортної роботи в Мережі потрібен сучасний браузер. Тут можна знайти останні версії.
Outdated Browser
Цей сайт призначений для комп'ютерів, але
ви можете вільно користуватися ним.
67.15%
людей використовує
цей браузер
Google Chrome
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
9.6%
людей використовує
цей браузер
Mozilla Firefox
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
4.5%
людей використовує
цей браузер
Microsoft Edge
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
3.15%
людей використовує
цей браузер
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux