I'm not expecting my son to become a concert pianist. He's one of the most okay-ist 11-year old piano players around. And that's just fine with me. So why do I keep paying for lessons and nagging him to practice every day? I think his music lessons do far more for him than I can measure and research backs me up. A comprehensive longitudinal study, (German Socio-Economic Panel, 2013) found, “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance.” The study described kids who take music lessons as having "better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious." Personally, I've seen great things from my son as he has studied piano and now violin. When asked, he said that the greatest thing about studying music was that he was proud to be developing a talent. That alone gives me incentive to encourage him to continue and to give my other kids the same opportunity. Want to know what other benefits learning music can give your children?
Probably the most noticeable improvement you'll see in your child's academics is the increase in your child's reading and verbal skills. Your child will also see improved mathematical and spatial-temporal reasoning and raised IQ. Learning to read music is akin to learning a new language and your child will see benefit when learning other languages. Plus, kids that study music are better listeners. Anything to get your kid to listen to you, right?
Slow the effects of aging
With the benefits of improved working memory and long-term memory for visual stimuli. Some studies suggest that music engagement may delay cognitive decline. You'll be setting your kids up for a life-long skill which will benefit them for the long-term. It may not seem like something to worry about right now but slowing the effects of aging is an immeasurable benefit.
Strengthened motor cortex
There is no question that fine motor skills are important in all aspects of a child's life. Virginia Penhune, a researcher at Concordia University said, “Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli. Practicing an instrument before age seven likely boosts the normal maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions of the brain, creating a framework upon which ongoing training can build.”
The social-behavioral benefits can't be ignored. My son was a very anxious child. Around the time he began studying piano, I saw that his anxiety began decreasing significantly. I was working hard in other realms to decrease his anxiety but I feel like it certainly contributed to an improvement in my son's ability to manage his anxiety. A study by researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine found that a child's musical background appeared to contribute to enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem and those children were better at managing anxiety.
There is a whole lot of research supporting the claim that music benefits your child's brain. It's almost difficult to point out all the benefits. Hopefully, your child's school has a music program and you'll be able to look on the bright side of your kid playing the recorder non-stop. But even in early-childhood, unstructured play with musical instruments is great exposure. And if you've been on the fence about music lessons, consider the many benefits it can provide your child. If you don't have the resources to provide music lessons, don't write it off completely. Consider getting a Ukulele and learning alongside your kids - YouTube has a plethora of instructional videos. Consider it time well-spent and reap some of the awesome benefits learning music can have on your child's brain.
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