Photo by Army Medicine

Numerous studies have shown that playing an instrument and can positively affect a person’s brain. It takes years to fully master an instrument, and remaining proficient in music takes continuous practice.

However, with severe illnesses such as brain tumors, these skills can deteriorate as the illness becomes worse. Carlos Aguilera, a saxophone player from Spain, recently had surgery to remove a brain tumor – but played his saxophone throughout the entire surgery! 

The doctors, who also had him reading sheet music during the procedure, wanted to ensure he would not lose his musical skills. 

This surgery was the first of its kind done in Europe, and other surgeries have had similar procedures to treat other illnesses such as tremors. A similar surgery was done in Brazil earlier in 2015, but with vocalist and guitar player Anthony Kulkamp Dias singing and strumming during the removal of his brain tumor.

When learning a new instrument or how to understand music in general, people develop their problem-solving skills. When these skills are further developed, a musician's perception is able to recognize a whole new range of sounds. In addition, other skills such as motor control and coordination are much more “finely tuned” (if you will).

According to NPR, procedures such as this are meant to protect musicians' primary audio cortex and other parts of the brain that can affect their ability to play.

Other Sources:

Cole, Diane. "Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You've Taken Music Lessons." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 3 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.

Locker, Melissa. "This Is How Music Can Change Your Brain." Time. Time, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.