Music and the Brain 

It has been said that music is medicine for the mind. Listening to music releases dopamine, a pleasure hormone in the brain, and reduces cortisol, a stress hormone, which results in a lift in one's mood and reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Even listening to sad music can be cathartic and therefore can benefit the brain. The way in which music encourages the formation of positive emotions has an indirect enhancing effect on forming memories as the brain has a greater ability to perform when it isn't anticipated by stress and negative emotions. 

Whilst listening to music can greatly affect the brain in a positive way, it doesn't come close to the benefits that playing a musical instrument or having some kind of part in the creation of music. Playing an instrument greatly develops the mind and its abilities, it results in increased brain connectivity as it activates all parts of the brain, basically resulting in what could be seen as a total brain workout which helps prevent Alzheimer's and other degenerative brain diseases. For more information on music's effect on Alzheimer's follow the link below: 

https://www.alzheimersmusicproject.org 

What kind of music should you listen to

The types of music we listen to can also change the effects music has on us, whilst it is obvious that happier music is more likely to lift our moods and sad music is more likely to provide catharsis, it may be less clear what music, for example, is more likely to aid concentration and therefore memory. According to research, it's best to listen, first of all, music that we like and is familiar and also to avoid music with lyrics, as this makes the music more distracting, hindering our productivity. The ideal genres of music to listen to are jazz and classical, as they both have a lack of lyrics, in most cases, and also have an ambient quality, allowing them to be listened to passively, minimising distraction. 

However, there is no preference in terms of what music is best to play ourselves, as long as we are musically engaging our brains we will reap the benefits, especially if we are performing two different musical acts at once, ie.e playing an instrument and singing at the same time, this greatly improves connectivity within the brain as all parts of the brain on both sides are having to cooperate despite doing different things at different speeds or rhythms.