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Music in Mind


1 Chronicles 25:7

“So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.”


I once heard the legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson on a BBC TV program in the 1970s remark that young jazz pianists needed to start out by training in classical music. Few would doubt Peterson’s immense genius, but recent studies suggest that he may have got that opinion wrong. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, have measured brain patterns of jazz and classical pianists. This research was particularly interesting to me, as, before I turned my attention to science, I was a trained classical pianist.


A sample of 30 professional musicians was chosen by the Institute – 15 each of the two art forms. Their brain waves were measured under a number of different musical exercises. One exercise, which involved the juxtaposition of an unfamiliar chord in an otherwise regular sequence, appeared to be anticipated faster by jazz musicians. On the other hand, when the pianists were following carefully numbered fingering, if those fingering patterns were changed, the classical musicians could anticipate and cope better than those who played jazz.


Neither musical form can be considered better as far as brain activity is concerned, but it is notable that their musical brain pathways appear to be wired differently. This perhaps explains why great musicians of either genre often find it difficult to switch disciplines.


God has made each of us unique. He has given some an extra ability for music. It is completely in line with what we know, from God’s word, that He would give different skills and levels of skills to different people, for them to use to praise His Name.


Prayer: We praise You, Lord, with stringed instruments, with wind instruments, and with the instrument of our voices. May we always lift up our voices in praise to You. Amen.


Ref: Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. "Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently: Even when playing the same piece of music." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2018. . Image: Statue of Oscar Peterson, Ottawa, Canada, license: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported


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