The Neurological Benefits of Music Lessons for Children

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato

It would be a dream come true for some parents if their children mastered the piano, an instrument that sings both boldly and softly into the hearts of those who will listen. While many of us have a natural talent for music, these aren’t the only ones who can benefit from learning to play and sing through an instrument.

The art of music asks that we develop fine coordination skills and listen to our surroundings, valuable life lessons that we can carry with us into adulthood. The value of music lessons goes far beyond what you may think!

Perseverance

Like any difficult or new thing, learning to play an instrument will not come easily at first. It will be difficult to push through, especially with a stringed instrument that places pressure on one hand’s fingertips. Music has a way of urging us to develop patience and an odd love for self-discipline; it’s incredibly satisfying when all of the practice and hard work pays off as we nail the riff that stumped us last week.

 

Recollection

One of the more unexpected side effects of learning to play music is an increase in memory function [1]; lines of music get repeated during practice, like reading the same sentence over and over again. As you begin to follow the same procedure for many lines of music, they become committed to memory – memorization in any form helps your brain to recognize new ways to look at facts and features.

 

Language Skills

There’s good reason music is considered its own language – it transcends traditional language barriers and speaks into our minds on an emotional, rather than logical, level. With many different pitches and values to distinguish among the hundreds of instruments, it would stand to reason that observing variations in intonation can help us learn verbal speech much easier. In fact, studies have shown that those who learn to play music at a young age will have an easier time learning a second language [1].

 

Educational Development

While we aren’t quite sure the exact neuropathways that facilitate this, the study of music has been shown to have a profound effect on children’s IQ and standardized testing capability. Whether this reaches into the realm of focus or neuroplasticity remains to be seen; however, we do know that the art of learning music can have positive effects on a child’s academic performance [2].

 

Cultural Exposure

Since a great many different kinds of music can be heard from around the globe, any comprehensive music study should mention the origin of the songs your child knows. Popular classical music, especially by pianists and scores created for orchestra, is often European in origin! Your child may also gain exposure to instruments that were used in the past or in other countries; there’s a great deal to learn, should your child show interest in the history of music.

The first few weeks might be a little tough as your child struggles to learn a lot of new information all at once; however, once you start to see them pull through and show pride in their accomplishments, it may be impossible to get them to stop practicing! Remember, though, to gently nurture a love for music rather than impose it. Above all, keep in mind that there is a multitude of instruments that your child can try – just because one doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean they won’t like a different one! Enjoy the process and help your child explore!

Sources:
[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957486/
[2] https://nafme.org/advocacy/what-to-know/music-education-and-academic-achievement/