Why start young?
It is now widely accepted that there are direct correlations between musical study and verbal competency, motor and auditory skills, reasoning abilities and problem solving – essential abilities that children take into adulthood.
Musical experience promotes brain development.
A 2009 study featured in the Journal of Neuroscience showed for the first time that musical experience, for as little as 15 months in early childhood leads to structural brain changes and results in improvements in motor and auditory skills.
Music contributes to academic success.
Researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital worked with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and found that early musical training enhances the areas of the brain responsible for executive functioning. Children with at least two years of private lessons showed enhanced cognitive control with aids in information retention and behavior regulation.
“Musical training may actually help to set up children for a better academic future,” said senior investigator Nadine Gaab, Ph.D., of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience. A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compared the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.
Aside from the test score results, Johnson’s study highlights the positive effects that a quality music education can have on a young child’s success. “Schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably have high quality teachers in other areas. If you have an environment where there are a lot of people doing creative, smart, great things, joyful things, even people who aren’t doing that have a tendency to grow up and do better,” said Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.
Being musical is a process.
Music can improve your child’s abilities in learning and other nonmusical tasks, but it’s important to understand that music does not make one smarter. The many intrinsic benefits to music education include being disciplined, learning a skill, being a part of the music world, managing performance and being part of something for which you are proud.
While parents may hope that enrolling their child in a music program will make her a better student, the primary reasons to provide your child with a musical education should be to help them become more musical, to appreciate all aspects of music, and to respect the process of learning an instrument or learning to sing, which is valuable on its own merit.
Playing music is fun!
Playing music is just fun to do and one of the most important benefits of music lessons. There is another more captivating or engaging that blasting a song through your headphones or jamming with friends or bandmates. Even when you’re just getting started, playing some basic songs is super fun. No matter how simple, there’s nothing better than to say , “I just made music!”
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