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The Straight Dope on Medical Problems and Benefits of Musicianship

Depending on what instrument you play, you've probably seen different variations on the headline "[Our type of instrumentalist]s' Brains Really Are Different," with an article summarizing a study that perhaps discusses musicians in general, not just your specialty. It might have made you feel validated as long as you didn't look too closely at the details. ("What do mean it also applies to drummers, piccolo players and accordionists?")

If you really want accurate medical or psychological research without the clickbait spin, go directly to the source, meaning studies that have undergone peer review. The peer review process means that, before an article can be published, other experts in the field have read it to verify that it is accurate; in the sciences, this includes that the results can be reproduced by using the methods described by the author. An example of a peer-reviewed journal in our collection is Medical Problems of the Performing Artist. Its editorial board includes lots of PhDs in psychology and MDs, not staff writers at guitar mags. The latest issue, available in the library and online includes an overview of research on the non-medical benefits of music, and it includes a bibliography of 81 items. 
 
Dawson, William J. "Benefits of Music Training Are Widespread and Lifelong: A Bibliographic Review of Their Non-Musical Effects." Medical Problems of Performing Artists 29:2 (June 2014) 57:63. http://www.sciandmed.com/mppa/journalviewer.aspx?issue=1204&article=2040&action=1.

Although this article focuses on the benefits, the journal is a great way to stay aware of the latest research on the afflictions that affect musicians and other performers.

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