Last night, I found myself sitting in a crowd of young people, ready to play the piece they had prepared for the Halloween recital. Seeing young people get up there and play is a great experience. There was even a young girl who composed her own Halloween song! And even more, I noticed the pride of the parents and grandparents who were there to see their children play. So I got to thinking, how do we get more parents to see the benefit of music education? So of course, I went straight to Google. I found myself reading all sorts of articles about the benefits of music making in young people. I’d like to share with you the article that I found on The Metropolitan School of The Arts Website. They list “14 Reasons Everyone Should Take Music Lessons”. I hope you find this list as interesting as I did.
1. INCREASE YOUR IQ
According to an article from The Telegraph online magazine, “New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills.” There is continually more evidence that musicians have organizationally and functionally different brains compared to non-musicians, especially in the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. Some studies show that playing an instrument can increase your IQ up to 7 points.
2. INCREASE THE CAPACITY OF YOUR MEMORY
Research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate your brain and can increase your memory. A study was done in which 22 children from age 3 to 4 years old were given either singing lessons or keyboard lessons. A control group of 15 children received no music lessons at all. Both groups participated in the same preschool activities. The results showed that preschoolers who had weekly keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal skills 34 percent more than the other children. Not only that, but researchers said that the effect lasted long-term.
3. INCREASE MATHEMATICAL ABILITY
Reading music requires counting notes and rhythms and can help your math skills. Also, learning music theory includes many mathematical aspects. Studies have shown that students who play instruments or study the arts are often better in math and achieve higher grades in school than students who don’t.
4. IMPROVE READING COMPREHENSION
According to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music, “Children exposed to a multi-year program of music involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.” It’s not surprising to hear results like that because music involves constant reading and comprehension. When you see black and white notes on a page, you have to recognize what the note name is and translate it to a finger/slide position. At the same time, you also have to read what rhythms the notes are arranged in and force your tongue to produce the correct pattern
5. BUILD SELF CONFIDENCE
Overcoming musical challenges that you thought you’d never quite master can give you a great sense of pride. When you first start learning how to play an instrument, it seems like just holding a note for a couple beats or hitting a high pitch is an amazing accomplishment. Many small successes will eventually breed long term, innate self-confidence.
6. REDUCE STRESS & BE HAPPY!
Listening to and playing music can promote stimulation to areas of the brain that promote increased joy and decreased stress. During the past decade, the investigation correlation between music and the brain has proven that music can modulate activity in parts of the brain that are known to be crucially involved in emotion. The potential of music to modulate activity in these structures has important implications for the use of music in the treatment chronic stress.
7. ENHANCE HAND EYE COORDINATION
The art of playing an instrument requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. By reading musical notes on a page, your brain subconsciously must convert that note into specific motor patterns while also adding breathing and rhythm to the mix.
8. LEARN PERSEVERANCE & SELF DISCIPLINE
Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort, which teaches patience and perseverance. Musicians have to work through difficult sections of music multiple times in a row before they can play it correctly. Practicing often and working on the hard parts requires perseverance. The best musicians in the world are masters of discipline.
9. INCREASE COOPERATION
Cooperation is an important aspect of being successful in life. Playing an instrument requires you to work with others to make music. In band and orchestra settings you must learn how to cooperate with the people around you. Also, in order for a group to make beautiful music, each player and section must learn how to listen to each other and play together.
10. LEARN RESPONSIBILITY
Maintenance and care are very important in keeping an instrument in working condition. Each instrument has different procedures to keep it functioning properly, but most instruments need cleaning and some form of oiling/greasing. In addition to maintenance responsibilities, there are other aspects such as remembering music events (like rehearsals and performances) and making time to practice.
11. LEARN CULTURAL HISTORY
Music reflects history and gives us insight on what it was like to live in the era and geography of its creation. Each piece of music has a unique history that is explored upon learning it. The more diverse your musical knowledge is, the more informed you are about a variety of cultures, eras and geographic influences that shape the art form as we know it today.
12. BOOST LISTENING SKILLS
Playing an instrument requires you to listen very carefully. You have to learn to hear when you’re playing a wrong note in order to correct yourself. Tuning your instrument means hearing if the pitch you’re playing is high (sharp) or low (flat). When playing in an ensemble, you have to listen for the melody and play softer if you’re the supporting part (accompaniment). Training listening skills teaches us how to be reflective and thoughtful.
13. ENHANCE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Air is one of the key components in making music. In order to play music correctly when playing an instrument (or sing music with your voice), you’ll need to take huge breaths and learn how to expel the air properly to make the desired sound. Breathing exercises are highly recommended for musicians, and they can strengthen your respiratory system.
14. MAKE LIFELONG FRIENDS
When you become a musician or a vocalist, you become a part of a bigger community. Not only is it fun to play music that you enjoy, but it feels wonderful to join together with others to create a unified sound. Friendships and relationships are strengthened through common interests and artists typically find that their most meaningful (and longest lasting) relationships are found through those they meet through the sharing their art form.
“The Sound of Learning: 14 Reasons Everyone Should Take Music Lessons – Metropolitan School of the Arts.” Metropolitan School of the Arts. N.p., 27 July 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.