Music lessons for children are important in schools. Yet, not many people see it as such, even viewing it as a hindrance to their child’s overall growth. However, parents, teachers and schools should see the importance and benefits of music lessons on the growth and development of children.
Music improves cognitive skills and academic performance
Back in the early 90s, when claims that “listening to classical music helps children become smarter” cropped up, development toys involving classical music for children started appearing in stores, and new parents scrambled to make sure that their kids grow up listening to classical music. While this claim has since been proven to be a myth, there is, however, truth to music improving the cognitive skills of young children.
Unlike the exaggerated myth that such a passive approach could somehow make children become smarter as they grow older, having a consistent music education can actually help young children enhance their language capabilities (such as vocabulary and reading comprehension skills), improve their memory and heighten their mental-processing and problem-solving skills.
Studies have shown that the area of the brain controlling both musical ability and language comprehension are more related than previously thought, possibly even more beneficial than offering children extra reading lessons. During music lessons, children are taught to read music by sight and memorise whole pieces of music so that they can play naturally without referring to the score too often. On top of that, understanding beat, rhythm, and scales in music help children comprehend mathematics better by showing them how to divide, create fractions and recognise patterns.
Music cultivates social skills
Music, as an experience, brings people of all ages, cultures and genders together. It is quite fascinating how the simple act of creating music together can bring about a sense of connectedness. Researchers suggested that this sense of connectedness was a result of the synchronised movements typical of musical play.
Group classes that encourage children to interact with others also create opportunities for them to work together towards a common goal. Research conducted not too long ago has found that children who participated in group music activities showed greater group cohesion, cooperation and prosocial behaviour as compared to other children who did not take part in such musical activities.
Music helps to build self-esteem
From having the autonomy to select an instrument (or multiple instruments) to feeling triumphant upon nailing a particularly difficult piece after weeks upon weeks of determined practice, music is a wonderful medium through which children can express themselves.
Music lessons also offer a safe space where children can learn to accept and give constructive criticism; to turn negative feedback into fuel for improvement. This helps them to build self-confidence. Apart from that, most music curriculums culminate in a public performance. This experience may be intimidating and nerve-racking at first. Still, multiple exposures will help children build enough confidence to perform in front of others on other separate occasions in the future.
Music teaches discipline
While parents take care not to overwhelm their children by piling on a ton of extracurricular activities and lessons, juggling school, music lessons, and music practice is definitely not easy. More so when music requires practice even outside of lessons, leaving less time for other activities. As children grow older into their teens and eventually into adulthood, there will inevitably be more commitments and responsibilities that will demand their time and attention. Learning to strike a balance between music, school, and all other interests and undertakings from a young age will have endless benefits for a child’s future.
Music helps to relieve stress
Stress is part and parcel of life. It is triggered by overwhelming situations and typically induces a chain reaction to lead to feelings of burnout, anger, or even depression. As adults, we experience stress from work, difficult relationships and other commitments. Similarly, children can experience stress from school, relationships and extra curriculums too. Surely, none of us would want our children to experience excessive amounts of stress but believe it or not, stress is unavoidable, even for young children. In fact, a little stress can be good. However, if it snowballs into excessive amounts of stress, it can affect a child negatively.
Music and music lessons are a great way for children to relieve stress. They provide an outlet for negative emotions to be released into, and studies have shown that both playing and listening to music can reduce burnout as well as improve moods.
With all things considered, music should not be seen as an encumbrance or as something that competes with other seemingly more important activities that are already on your children’s plates. Instead, music lessons should be seen as a crucial asset for children and that which works in tandem with other learnings at school and in their personal lives.