Are you thinking about giving your kids music lessons? It may be a great idea, as learning to play an instrument and reading music can help children develop social and intellectual skills that are needed for education and social interaction.
Learning music and practicing an instrument is extremely important for school-age kids. It helps develop their brains in a number of different ways. To find out more, here are five good reasons to teach music to your little ones:
1. Music improves language skills
A recent study conducted in Beijing, with a group of 74 children between four and five years old, has found that piano lessons have a positive effect on discriminating spoken words. Previous brain scientists have long shown that music training enhances language learning. But it is the first time a study shows this type of results linked to a specific instrument.
The researchers found that "students who took piano lessons improved their language skills more than those who had supplemental reading lessons, or those who didn't have any of the two". When researches tested the children on their ability to differentiate words that only differ by consonants, vowels or tones, children who had piano lessons showed a significant advantage over the other groups. Particularly, children who took piano lessons were better at discriminating between words that differ by one consonant.
Being able to hear the differences between words is crucial for kids who are learning a language and a key component when learning to read.
2. Math and physics
Music also benefits other academic skills such as math and physics. Musical and mathematical abilities are very twined. When teaching kids beat, rhythm and scales, they are also learning how to divide, create fractions and recognize patterns.
Math, physics and music are controlled by the same part of the brain. Learning music also creates connections in the brain that help children in certain areas of physics. For instance, plucking the strings on a guitar teaches children about vibrations and harmony.
3. Coordination and motor skills
Instruments that require movements of the arms, hands and feet, such as drumming and other percussion instruments, help children develop motor and physical skills.
On the other hand, keyboard and string instruments such as piano and guitar, require different actions from the right and the left hands, which improves coordination and ambidexterity.
4. Music cultivates soft skills
During music group classes, children interact and communicate with others, encouraging collaboration and teamwork. Children learn social skills when they have to wait for their turn to play and when they sing or play along with other kids.
Moreover, learning how to play an instrument requires hours, months and even years of hard practice. Therefore, learning music is a great way to refine perseverance, patience and discipline for young children.
5. Music lifts self-esteem
When taking music lessons, kids often have to present themselves in public, in front of their classmates or their teacher. This exposure will help them develop self-confidence. This is an essential soft skill transferable to public speaking and other professional and educational situations.
Learning music also teaches children to give and receive constructive criticism. Using feedback to change and improve will also help them lift their self-esteem.
Overall, music can contribute very important abilities to children’s intellectual and physical development. If you are not sure about what is the best instrument for your child, pay attention to what motivates him or her. Try to match your child's temperament and personality with the music style and consider an instrument that is challenging but not too challenging for your child and for yourself.
Do you have any actionable advice to encourage your kids to learn music and practice an instrument? Let us know in the comments!
Author bio: Maria is a journalist and mother of two. She loves covering stories about education, parenting, women, innovation, tech, food and travel. In her spare time she loves traveling with her husband and kids and she is the founder of Travel for Food Hub.