Music in Mind

Music in Mind

1 Chronicles 25: 7
“And the number of them, with their brethren, instructed in singing to Jehovah, all fit, was two hundred and eighty-eight.”

I once heard legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson say on a BBC television show in the 1970s that young jazz pianists needed to start by training in classical music. Few would doubt Peterson’s immense genius, but recent studies suggest that he may have misinterpreted that opinion. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, have measured the brain patterns of jazz and classical pianists. This research was especially interesting to me, since before giving my attention to science, I was a trained classical pianist.

The Institute chose a sample of 30 professional musicians: 15 from each of the two art forms. Their brain waves were measured under a series of different musical exercises. One exercise, which involved juxtaposing an unknown chord in an otherwise regular sequence, seemed to be anticipated more quickly by jazz musicians. On the other hand, when pianists followed a carefully numbered fingering, if the fingering patterns were changed, classical musicians could anticipate and cope better than those who played jazz.

None of the musical forms can be considered better when it comes to brain activity, but it is notable that their musical brain pathways seem to be wired differently. This perhaps explains why great musicians of both genres find it difficult to change disciplines.

God has made us unique. He has given some an extra knack for music. This is completely in line with what we know, from the Word of God, that He would give different abilities and levels of abilities to different people, to use to praise His Name.

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

Ref: Max Planck Institute for Brain and Human Cognitive 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, January 16, 2018 <;.

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