THE BENEFITS OF LEARNING TO PLAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
Why should children learn to play a musical instrument?
It is scientifically proven, with many pieces of research and credible studies, that playing a musical instrument alters the brain in a positive way.
Here are some quick facts as to how music lessons help your child be superior in life.
Superior Academic Skills
Children who take music lessons perform better in reading and math. In the foundation of music, there is math. By learning how to count beats, understand rhythm, and sub-divide complex measures the child’s brain gets primed for dividing numbers, recognizing patterns, and working fractions.
Children who learn to play an instrument naturally develop longer attention spans. Thus, they are able to keep their focus longer during classes, retain more information, and achieve higher scores on standardized tests.
“On the 2012 SAT, students who participated in music scored an average of 31 points above average in reading, 23 points above average in math, and 31 points above average in writing.”
Another research shows that “after assigning 144 children to keyboard lessons, voice lessons, drama lessons, or no lessons, researchers found that children in the music groups exhibited greater increases on an IQ test than students in the drama lessons or those without lessons.”
A Hard Working (And BIGGER!) Brain
The brain of a person who plays a musical instrument works much more differently than a person who does not play an instrument.
Here are a couple of research findings:
If you examine the brain of a keyboard player, you’ll find that the region of the brain that controls finger movements is enlarged (Pascual-Leone 2001).
Brain scans of 9 to 11-year-old children have revealed that those kids who play musical instruments have significantly more grey matter volume in both the sensorimotor cortex and the occipital lobes (Schlaug et al 2005).
Think about learning an instrument as a full body work-out for your brain. Just as your muscles get bigger the longer you train them, the communication of the neural paths in your brain get stronger, deeper, and more efficient.
Playing music engages every area in your brain at once. The right and left hemispheres of the brain begin to be worked equally harder in a non-conventional way; in a way, no other exercise or art form, such as painting, drama, or sports can achieve. The result is a superiorly efficient brain where the information flies through, resulting in excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Playing music has been found to increase the volume and the activity in the brain’s corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres, allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This allows people who actively learn a musical instrument to solve problems more effectively and creatively, in both academic and social settings.
Social Skills and Discipline
When children begin playing their instruments in an ensemble or orchestral setting, they become part of a larger entity. An important piece to the puzzle.
In these ensemble settings, children begin cultivating peer interaction and communication. They learn how to listen to one another, not to rush, and stay with the group. They begin relying on each other, learn to accept and give constructive criticism which in turn encourages teamwork. They learn collaboration by playing loudly or softly together and understanding that nobody is perfect and that there is always room for improvement.
Private lessons and individual practice require very focused attention, even 5 minutes at a time, that stretches longer over time. The ability to absorb information while sitting still during private lessons, then practicing at home with no guidance greatly affects the child’s attention span, perseverance, tolerance, and determination toward other subjects in life.
Learning to play an instrument never comes with instant gratification; it requires patience and hours of practice. Thus, the student must persevere for hours, days, and months before she/he can reach a specific goal.
In the orchestra classes, students play their instruments sitting next to each other, waiting for their turn to play. This greatly improves patience. In waiting for their turns and listening to their classmates play, children learn to show their peers respect; to sit quietly for designated periods of time and to be attentive.
Music makes our children smarter, more agile thinkers and prepares them for the challenges of tomorrow. Contact me to schedule your free diagnostics lesson and start your musical journey!