There are many reasons that music lessons are valuable for children. These benefits can be grouped as emotional, social, and cognitive. Music’s benefits are too big to ignore!
Emotional Benefits of Learning Music
The emotional benefits of learning music are many. Music-making is a deeply creative and personal endeavor. Children who make music have a safe place to express their deepest feelings. Music can be an outlet for feelings that are not safe to express elsewhere.
When I was a child, I would go home and play my piano or violin whenever I was teased at school. Being able to express my anger and sadness through my piano playing was a wonderful chance to process the emotions of adolescence. There were difficulties that came with growing older. Music helped me get through it.
I have seen students turn to music as an outlet too. It can be a place where deep feelings are expressed in a safe and acceptable way. It can even help heal trauma. Students can process what they’re feeling through the creativity of music-making.
Social Benefits of Learning Music
Bands, orchestras, and choirs give students the chance to make music with their friends. The ensemble only sounds as good as its least experienced member. Students have to listen to each other and make music as a team. They have to make decisions that benefit the outcome of the group, not only what is best for them.
As a teacher, I’ve had students elect to play an easier part because it makes the whole group sound better. When they are playing something that is cohesive, they sound better. Students learn to listen for balance. When they have the melody, they play louder. When they have an accompanying part, they play softer. They play at the same speed as everyone else so the group can sound good!
Students like making music with their friends. They like the aspect of teamwork and community.
Cognitive Benefits of Music Study
Music study can reinforce the following skills. It may even lead to structural changes in the brain that enhance learning. These are some of the skills that music study enhances.
- Music improves a child’s memory
- Music strengthens hand-eye coordination
- Music leads to powerful study habits
- Music increases problem-solving and mental processing abilities
- Music builds a more flexible brain that is built for learning
To play music, you have to recognize and memorize patterns. That is the only way you can process so much information at tempo. This processing leads to better memory and improved hand-eye coordination. When a student can recognize patterns, they can understand math and computer programming. It is no wonder that so many people who study music as children become computer engineers as adults. (That’s what my two sons are doing!)
When you study music there is a lot of cross-hemisphere communication that goes on in the brain. Because the left and right hands are doing different things and they have to be in sync. The corpus callosum tends to be larger in musicians than in the population at large. Such structural changes in the brain lead to more flexibility and the ability to learn throughout our lives.
Some music is difficult to play. As a performer/learner, you need to do certain parts over and over to get good at the piece. You plan and learn how to focus on the more difficult sections in your practice. As a result, you have great executive processing skills and can learn how to learn anything.
Music has Something for Everyone
So, music study provides benefits in three distinct realms: emotional, social, and cognitive. So, next time someone asks you why you teach music, you can respond that the benefits are immense.
Let me know if these ideas resonate with you. And how you can best share them with others. You can send them to your students. And feel free to share this email with a friend or colleague.
Music’s benefits are too big to ignore!
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Jenny guides you to find your musical self. You can learn piano, violin, viola, or ukulele.