You Don’t Have To Be Einstein To Play An Instrument, Although He Did

For Albert Einstein, playing the piano and violin helped him relax, focus, and get back to his work. Einstein’s wife, Elsa once remarked, “I fell in love with Albert because he played Mozart so beautifully on the violin. He also plays the piano. Music helps him when he is thinking about his theories. He goes to his study, comes back, strikes a few chords on the piano, jots something down, returns to his study.”

Einstein credited his violin, which he nicknamed Lina, for most of the joy in his life

That’s not an exaggeration. “I know that most joy in my life has come to me from my violin,” he said as an old man.  

There’s more and more scientific studies and information coming out everyday on how playing an instrument can benefit and ignite so many parts of the brain. Studies show how playing an instrument can help concentration, self confidence, problem solving, and many many other important “life skills”. There’s a great book called,   This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession  that explores the connection between music—its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it—and the human brain.

We’ve compiled a list of some successful people who have studied and played instruments, and have sighted how their musical journey and exploration has helped them accomplish so much in their lives. Here are a few people who’s names you might recognize:

Thomas Edison – piano

Thomas Edison learned to play the piano and make recordings of himself playing works by such composers as Brahms. He also tried to build his own piano out of concrete, needless to say this style of piano didn’t quite catch on.

Maya Angelou – singer

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness,”

In the early 1950s—a decade before her first published writing—Angelou started out as an aspiring dancer and singer who slowly gained a following from her performances in local San Francisco nightclubs. Though short-lived, Angelou’s music career also included songwriting credits for the legendary B.B. King on two tracks he recorded for the Quincy Jones-produced soundtrack to Sidney Poitier’s For Love of Ivy.

Pele – guitar

Known as the greatest soccer player of all time but what most people don’t know is that Pele is a singer and guitar player who released a Bossa Nova Jazz album in 2006.  

Neil Armstrong – Baritone Horn

In high school, he took up an unusual brass instrument, the baritone horn (a sort of a cross between the trumpet and trombone), because he liked the instrument’s distinctive tone. In addition to the school orchestra, he also was in a combo, the Mississippi Moonshiners, which performed Spike Jones tunes at union-hall dances for $5, split four ways. “Neil was a very good musician,” one of the other members of the band later told Armstrong’s official biographer, James Hanson. “He had a strong after-beat, and he kept us going.”