Have you ever watched a drummer, pianist, violinist, or guitarist and been amazed with how quickly and accurately they move both of their hands, even though their hands are doing two different movements? Hughes and Franz (2007) studied musicians and nonmusicians reaction times using unimanual and bimanual conditions. They confirmed that reaction times for both conditions were quicker for musicians than nonmusicians and that unimanual reaction times were shorter than bimanual reaction times for both musicians and nonmusicians. Interestingly, musicians, when compared to nonmusicians, did not have superior temporal coupling for bimanual tasks and musicians who started to play an instrument at an earlier age had a larger bimanual cost.
As a soon to be consultant, it is important to understand how an athlete or performer’s reaction time is influenced while performing. Their reaction time may differ based on the unimanual and bimanual task or the extent of their past musical experience. For example, a racecar driver with musical experience should have a faster reaction time than a driver with no musical training. Although I do not have much experience with racecar driving, I may one day work with a professional driver and it will helpful to understand what conditions and experiences may impact their reaction time.
The question that came to my mind is, can athletes and performers begin musical training as an adult and expect to decrease their reaction time? If so, how much musical training does a person need to impact their reaction time?
While reading this article, I continue to find myself thinking about how interesting playing music and musical experiences can be and I hope that I will have the opportunity to work with musicians in the future. It is truly amazing to me that, for example, a violinist can so precisely and quickly move both of his or her hands in ways that make such a beautiful sound!