When our children were younger, we comforted them with lullabies and entertained them with nursery rhymes and Barney songs. We shouldn’t stop there. Ideally, we should encourage them to learn how to play a musical instrument.
Music helps develop our children’s creativity, plus a number of other skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Even if they never play for a symphony orchestra, the process of mastering an instrument will develop their mental, emotional and cognitive abilities.
1. Music improves your child’s concentration.
It takes a great deal of focus and patience to master an instrument. Aside from learning how to read notes, your child will also have to pay attention to his posture and factors like rhythm, timing, or even the pressure of his fingers on the instrument.
This skill of concentration will be very useful when your child goes to school. He’ll be used to listening to a teacher, and has learned to sit through a lesson and master it through regular “practice” (studying, drills, etc.) He will be less distracted, and less discouraged if he doesn’t get things right away. After all, all those years of going through musical exercises and tackling progressively difficult musical pieces has taught him that the only way to learn something is to practice it every day.
2. Music improves your child’s coordination.
Playing the piano or the violin may not be as physically rigorous as baseball or soccer, but these activities do develop hand-eye coordination—not to mention the fine motor skills required in learning how to write.
3. Music provides
a good form of stress relief.
Children do get stressed! Adults may think that school is nothing compared to the pressure they go through at the office, but they’re much younger, and still have difficulty understanding and getting a handle on their emotions and fears.
Music can be their way of relaxing. Studies show that playing an instrument can lower heart rates and blood pressure. Plus, the daily practice can be a comforting routine.
4. Music develops your child’s self-confidence.
As your child masters an instrument, he discovers and develops his talents, and gains tremendous self-satisfaction in seeing (or, more accurately, hearing) his progress. He may also enjoy having a skill that other people don’t have—and of course sharing it with other people, and enjoying their praise and admiration. It also helps if your child has the support and encouragement of the adults around him,
from his parents to a kind teacher or mentor.
5. Music can make our child smarter.
Studies show that learning music can help improve reading comprehension, mathematics, and cognitive skills like verbal and perceptual abilities as well as spatial reasoning. One landmark research, done by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, show that exposure to musical instruction can lead to higher scores in reading and math. Another study by the University of California and the University of Wisconsin link learning musical instruments to as much as 34% increase in I.Q. Another study showed that students who had a background in musical instruments scored better on SAT’s: as many as 61 points higher in verbal tests, and 42 points higher in math.
Researchers believe it’s because reading musical notes and playing instruments involve thinking ahead, visualizing, pattern recognition and using spatial-temporal skills—which children don’t get when they’re just watching TV or using the computer. The spatial-temporal skills are also one reason why music has been linked to mathematical intelligence and abstract reasoning.
Choosing an instrument
These are just some of the benefits that your child can get from learning music — and these include life skills your child can’t learn from school! Luckily your child can pick from a wide range of instruments to find one that he will enjoy. You can start by making him listen to different kinds of recordings (flute, piano, drum, etc.) or bringing him to children’s concerts. Also look into the size and shape of the instrument, picking one that will be easy for him to handle given his age and physical build. You should also consider how much space you have, and the sound insulation of your home—especially if you live in an apartment or condo. String instruments also require more maintenance (tuning, etc.)