Playing the piano is a combination of Brain, Heart and Means. And all three should be even. If one falls short of the others, the music suffers. Without Brains, you are a fiasco. Without Means, you are an amateur. Without Heart, you are a machine. It has its dangers, this occupation.
Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of
professional musicians from Tapiola Sinfonietta (a professional
orchestra) and Sibelius-Academy (a music university).
Playing music enhanced the activity of genes involved in
dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor function, learning and memory.
Some of the up-regulated genes like SNCA, FOS and DUSP1 are known to
contribute to song perception and production in songbirds suggesting a
potential evolutionary conservation in molecular mechanisms related to
sound production across species.
In addition, several of the up-regulated genes are known to be
involved in biological pathways like calcium ion homeostasis and iron
ion homeostasis that are essential for neuronal function, survival and
“The findings provide a valuable background for molecular studies of
music perception and evolution, and music therapy”, says the leader of
the study, Dr. Irma Järvelä from the University of Helsinki.
If you think back on a performance that has really stood out to you over the years, you may not even remember the specific sounds, but you remember the mood that was created, the turn of phrase, the momentary vision that became clear to you at that instant.