As parents, we all want what is best for our children. We want to ensure that their mental, physical and emotional well-being is all developing strength as they grow. For the most part, kids will find their own way towards enjoying music, especially in their teenage years – although, as parents, we may not always favor their tastes! But learning how to play an instrument is where the real developmental benefits lay. Here’s why music is important for kids.
1. It improves their brainpower
The health benefits of music for children have been scientifically proven, and one particular benefit is in the improvement of their overall brainpower and memory capabilities. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, musical experiences in childhood can accelerate brain development, particularly when it comes to reading skills and the acquisition of language. It is widely understood that music helps to stimulate the parts of the brain that are responsible for math, reading and even emotional development.
Different instruments have been shown to offer specific benefits, too. For example, studies have shown that drumming develops the motor planning functions of the brain, essentially allowing for quicker and more efficient exchanges of information between the hemispheres of the brain. When it comes to playing the piano, one of the primary benefits is strengthening the brain’s capacity for split concentration – reading music, using both hands and working the pedals is a lot to do at once and significantly sharpens multitasking and concentration skills.
2. It can build their confidence
Particularly if you have a timid child or one who seems low in self-confidence, learning how to play an instrument can be very helpful. Once they realize that they can successfully develop a skill on their own, it can really boost their confidence and improve their belief in themselves and in what is possible. Furthermore, as their diligence results in even more improvement, both their confidence and their sense of self-determination can grow.
3. It can inspire creativity
Musicians are arguably some of the most creative people out there, and with music, there are also a variety of creative paths to take. Whether your child sticks to playing one instrument or several, or perhaps becomes interested in lyric writing or audio production – the options are vast and exploring one’s inner creative streak is celebrated. This can significantly benefit them as they grow into dynamic, artistic, and/or entrepreneurial adults.
4. It can help them to develop social skills
It’s common for children to experience challenges when it comes to adapting socially and as parents, it’s therefore prudent to encourage extra-curricular activities that promote socialization. Many music-based activities involve group work – choirs, school bands etc., all have a wonderful sense of collaboration and cooperation. These experiences help children to develop social skills – in how they relate to others, to both work under and assume leadership and discipline, as well as how to enjoy and appreciate team-based achievements and rewards.
5. It teaches them discipline
Successfully acquiring a musical skill requires discipline and lots of patience. They will need to practice regularly whether they always like it or not, especially when it comes to a group relying upon their improvement. This teaches children the importance of following through and recognizing that, in order to improve, they must put the time and effort in.
6. It is great for self-expression
Self-expression is vital in nurturing a sense of self, of creativity, of enhanced communication skill, and even a strong sense of identity. It is so important to foster a great sense of expressive freedom in children to ensure that they grow into more self-assured and expressive adults. For children who exhibit signs of overt shyness, music can be particularly freeing and beneficial in giving them new ways with which to open up.
7. It teaches them patience
Working within any group or band requires patience. If your child is involved with a choir or other musical group, they will have to regularly wait patiently for either the leader to signal them to play, or for other group members who interrupt with challenges or questions. Through these experiences, they will learn not only the virtues of patience, but also what wonderful outcomes are possible when everyone works together patiently.
How to get your child involved in music
So, we’ve established all the wonderful benefits, but how do we get our children interested in music?
Buy an instrument and set up some lessons – there is no guarantee that they will fall in love with that particular instrument, but if you show interest and make it fun and inclusive it’s quite possible. Make sure the instrument is child-friendly though, as some will require smaller versions, like junior drumming sets, for example.
Find the right teacher – this can be harder than it sounds, but it’s so important to keep children engaged long-term by ensuring that their teacher is a good fit for them and one who can keep it engaging and fun.
Make music a way of life – you may not be a musician yourself, but that doesn’t stop you from playing a variety of music, dancing, singing and taking your children to watch live music!