Yup, We’re Different!


I’ve always known that I’m “different,” and I recently read an article that might explain why.

I’m a pianist. And I’ve been one since I was old enough to pull myself up onto the creaky chair at the piano in my parents’ living room in Yerevan, Armenia.

What makes us pianists different from other people, and, specifically, from other musicians? Our brains work in a unique way, thanks to the demands that learning to play the piano place on our cognitive processes.

I’m not a scientist, though I do love science. So, I will summarize the findings stated in the article in my own, musician-brained, way.

The piano requires that both hands play simultaneously while navigating 88 keys (more keys on certain pianos, but I digress). We play multiple notes at once, while managing rhythms, harmonies, and melodies, all at the same time.

Kind of a tall order, no?

Yes. Yes, it is.

And one that demands and develops a unique brain capacity. One that transcends the natural right- or left-handedness inherent to almost everyone. One that requires extremely efficient connections between the different parts of the frontal lobe, the area of the brain responsible for integrating information to make decisions, solve problems, process language, regulate spontaneity, and oversee social behavior. One that allows zooming through slower, methodical thinking. One that conserves energy by allocating resources in a highly effective manner.

Yup, we’re different.

So, when you encounter someone who comes to a conclusion, solves a problem, or sees through a situation more quickly than other people, chances are, you’re dealing with a pianist.

You may still find us annoying, but now you know why we are the way we are.

If you have a few minutes, take a look at the article here. 


6 thoughts on “Yup, We’re Different!”

  1. I find it interesting that musicians are different: scientists are, engineers too, even dancers. Maybe the answer is people vary and we aren’t all the same. I’ll skip the politic commentary on identity politics.

    1. Of course people vary. Are you saying that the neural connections that occur with different activities are negligible?

      1. I am saying that prefers the connections vary more than we admit and possibly it leads to a selection of what you become. Obviously then what you become then affects them. After all, forensics can determine what you did in life from bone changes. So can a good massage therapist actually. Why should the physical structure of the brain not change too?

        Now is that nature or nuture is another question. 70-80% of scientist and engineers (if I remember correctly) come from families of the same. I believe it is similar in music. Genetic predisposition or early exposure to the mindset?

        1. I agree, it is both nature and nurture. A Michael Jordan or a Tiger Woods is born with a natural gift that makes them “better” at their sport, AND they spend literally tens of thousands of hours of their lives working on and improving their skills to reach their personal bests (and if you ask them, I have no doubt that they would say that they never achieved their “best”). So, their bodies and brains were geared toward certain tasks, but it’s really their nurturing of their inherent gifts that allowed them to do what they do (or did, depending on your viewpoint). How many modern-day Mozarts or Beethovens never come to light because they had neither the exposure to what was possible for them nor the opportunity to hone their talents?

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