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Can playing the piano boost your brain function?

SALT LAKE CITY — For local musician Jerald Simon, playing the piano was a nonnegotiable tenant of childhood.

“It was like the 11th commandment: ‘thou shalt play the piano,'” Simon joked on Maria Shilaos’ podcast, Let’s Get Moving With Maria. “Closely followed by the 12th commandment, ‘thou shalt not complain about the piano.'”

Simon credits his piano instruction with many things, from discipline and self-confidence to improved memory and brain function. As a teacher today, he teaches students from ages 3-93 how to sight read, improvise and compose. Simon particularly enjoys teaching elderly students because they benefit immensely from the multi-sensory stimulation of playing the piano, he said.

“Their brains are so alert, and it’s because of what they are doing with the piano,” Simon said, citing studies that claim playing the piano can stave off dementia and reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s. “It’s wonderful to play for your own personal enjoyment, but also to help your brain and keep your fingers moving.”

To listeners with any residual interest in learning the piano, Simon encouraged them to start today.

“You’re never too old,” he promised. “It’s never too late.”