Updated: Jan 12, 2022
As parents, I think we can all agree that life can get busy, and adding "another" activity that our kids engage in can be a little daunting, especially an activity that requires discipline, resilience, patience and musical accuracy. Is this really something that our child wants to explore?
Once a child explores the first 6 months of an instrument where they've begun to cover the fundaments and beginning stages of that instrument's theory, mixing with consistency and regular practice etc, there are many studies that show how learning an instrument can enhance a child's life, both socially, academically and neurologically (see below)
Here's 12 benefits that your child will start to experience when they learn a musical instrument:
1. Increases memory and cognitive function.
Research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate the brain and can increase memory. A study was done in which 22 children from age 3 to 4 and a half years old were given either singing lessons or keyboard lessons. A controlled group of 15 children received no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in the same preschool activities. The results showed that preschoolers who had weekly keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal skills 34 percent more than the other children. Not only that, but researchers said that the effect lasted long term.
According to an article from The Telegraph online magazine, “New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills.” There is continually more evidence that musicians have organisational and functionally different brains compared to non-musicians, especially in the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. If a student learns how to play an instrument, the parts of the brain that control motor skills (eg: using hands, running, swimming, balancing, hearing, storing audio information, and memory) actually grow and become more active. Other results show that playing an instrument can help IQ increase by seven points.
2. Boosts team building skills and inclusiveness.
Playing an instrument requires students to work with others to make music. In band and orchestra settings the student must learn how to cooperate with the people around them. Also, in order for a group to make beautiful music, each player and section must learn how to listen to each other and play together.
3. Teaches resilience.
Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort, which teaches patience and resilience. Most people can’t play every piece of music perfectly the first time. In fact, the majority of musicians have to work out difficult sections of music multiple times in a row before they can play it correctly.
4. Enhances coordination.
The art of playing an instrument requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. By reading musical notes on a page, the brain subconsciously must convert those notes into specific motor patterns while also adding breathing and rhythm to the mix.
5. Improves mathematical ability.
Reading music requires counting notes and rhythms and can help math skills. Also, learning music theory includes many mathematical aspects. Studies have shown that students who play instruments or study the arts are often better in math and achieve higher grades in school than students who don’t.
(Source: Friedman, B. (1959) An evaluation of the achievement in reading and arithmetic of pupils in elementary schools instrumental classes. Dissertation Abstracts International, 20, pp.s 3662-3663.)
6. Improves reading and comprehension skills.
According to a study published in the journal 'Psychology of Music', “Children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.”
The study shows that playing a musical instrument involves constant reading and comprehension. When a student sees black and white notes on a page, they have to recognise what the note name is and translate it to a hand position/technique. At the same time, they also have to read what rhythms the notes are arranged in.
7. Sharpens concentration.
Playing music requires a student to concentrate on things like pitch, rhythm, tempo, note duration, and quality of sound. Playing music in a group involves even more concentration because the student must learn to not only hear them self, but they must listen to all the other sections and play in harmony with the rest of the group.
8. Creates achievement.
Overcoming musical challenges that seemed impossible can give students a great sense of pride and achievement. When they first start learning how to play an instrument, just being able to hold out a note for a couple beats or hitting a high pitch is an amazing accomplishment. As they practice and become more experienced musicians, making beautiful sounding music pleasing not only to the ear, but others as well is a very rewarding experience.
9. Promotes social skills.
Playing an instrument can be a great way to enhance social skills. All types of people join bands and orchestras once they've progressed on their instrument, and many times the friends they make become like family. It’s very common for people to gain lifelong friendships through musical activities like these.
10. Boosts listening skills.
Playing an instrument requires students to listen very carefully. They have to learn how to hear when they're playing a wrong note in order to correct themselves. Tuning their instrument means hearing if the pitch they’re playing is high (sharp) or low (flat). When playing in an ensemble, students have to listen for the melody and play softer if they’re the supporting part (accompaniment).
11. Teaches discipline.
One of the qualities that musicians learn is discipline. Practicing often and working on the hard parts of music and not just the easy and fun parts requires discipline. The best musicians in the world are masters of discipline which is why they are so successful on their instrument.
12. Elevates performance skills.
One of the goals of practicing so much is that students can perform for others. Playing on stage helps students develop resilience and determination whilst being able to showcase their progress for friends and family.