Piano Playing Reduces Stress More Than Other Creative Art Activities

Kumiko Toyoshima
Hajime Fukui
Kiyoto Kuda


Few studies have been conducted on the physiological effects of creative art activities. In this study, the effects of creative art activities on human stress were investigated, and their effects were compared in 57 healthy college students (27 males and 30 females). Subjects were divided into four groups, each of which participated in 30-minute sessions of one of the following creative activities or a control activity: (1) playing the piano; (2) molding a piece of clay; (3) calligraphy (writing using a brush and ink); and (4) remaining silent (as a control activity). Cortisol levels and the State-trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-I) were measured before and after each session. Post-session cortisol levels were markedly decreased for piano playing, clay molding and calligraphy, indicating a reduction in stress due to participation in creative activities; the effect of piano playing was significantly greater than clay molding and calligraphy. Post-session STAI scores decreased significantly in all groups other than the control group, indicating a reduction in anxiety induced by engaging in creative activities. The psychological and physiological stress-reducing effects of creative activity, particularly playing the piano, were demonstrated. In addition, the role of music education in school in mental health is discussed.