“It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing!” Jazz, a musical style known for its forceful, driving rhythms, syncopation, and improvisational writing style has been an American tradition since it was founded in the 20th Century. However, besides being a fun genre of music to enjoy, recent research studies have found that there are other neurological benefits for those who play jazz music. Researchers at the John Hopkins Research Hospital recently conducted a study where they discovered the neurological connections made while jazz musicians compose music are similar to the neurological connections of conversation. Researchers conducted an MRI scan on jazz musicians while they were playing music. They discovered that the improvisational style of jazz music initiated the parts of the brain that are associated with spoken language and the syntax, areas that process phrase and sentence structure. However, the brain did not activate in the area that controls spoken language. This is because jazz musicians are not speaking to each other in words, but rather, they are speaking to each other in music. This is a landmark discovery for scientists. Before this study, all research concerning the brain’s syntax was conducted through oral communication. Because of this new development, scientists now know that syntax process more than just the spoken word-it processes verbally and non-verbally. This can have a major effect on modern medicine concerning neurological injuries and defects as it is investigated further.
At Premier Performing Arts Studio School of Music, our teachers are trained with a variety of different music playing and writing methods-including jazz! If you or your child is interested in jazz and learns the jazz playing style, it could have a marvelous effect not only on the child’s musical abilities, but it could also significantly improve your child’s communication and social skills as well!