Parents who are considering a first activity for their children should strongly think about starting with a musical instrument. Not only is it fun to make music, but science has shown that even small amounts of music education could produce major benefits to a child’s development.
A 2014 study from the University of Vermont followed more than 200 children over a number of years and found that children who had undergone musical training had an increase in cortical thickness in the areas of the brain that dictate functions such as memory, organizational skills and attention span.
Furthermore, when students learn to play instruments, the stimulations in the brain of distinguishing between different sounds can contribute to further academic success.
Musical education cannot be passive—children should be engaged in musical activity and learning an instrument. Beyond just the science, experts and parents have found some other tangible benefits.
As children learn an instrument, they listen to constructive feedback to improve and refine their skills and technique, and positive growth can greatly boost self-confidence.
We’ve all heard the joke—“How do you get to Carnegie Hall? PRACTICE!” When children are dedicated to learning and perfecting an instrument, they have to go through many hours and days of practice. This can give your child a serious dose of patience, which is never a bad thing.
IMPROVED READING AND MATH SKILLS
Researchers at Northwestern University found that children who not only regularly attended music classes, but also actively participated in the class, showed larger improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers.
There are many elements involved in playing an instrument. Children have to figure out how to hold their instrument while learning to read sheet music and eventually balance all of these actions.
Learning an instrument teaches a child to protect and be responsible for their instrument, carrying case and sheet music.
Children who play instruments boost memorization skills because music enhances ways for kids to effectively create, store and retrieve memories, similar to a workout for the brain.
BOOST SELF-EXPRESSION AND SOCIAL SKILLS
Learning to play an instrument allows an outlet for creativity which can allow children to express possibly suppressed emotions.
“There are many benefits of playing a musical instrument. As a music teacher, I love it when my students achieve their goals— learning a new song or doing well during a performance,” said Prentiss Ladkani, a music teacher who holds a bachelor’s degree in music-violin. “It shows them that their hard work and patience has paid off. Plus, playing instruments with others is fun!”
If your child seems to enjoy music, remember to follow your child’s lead when it comes to the instrument they may enjoy and do not push them into an instrument or activity they do not enjoy. More than anything, playing an instrument is about your child’s healthy self-expression. So, sit back and enjoy the music!