Should I encourage my child to learn music?

 Parenting these days is full of choices. Whether to sign your child up for fencing, theatre or extra maths, you’re constantly trying to help her build up a good set of skills for life whilst enjoying herself in the process. With so many choices to consider, why do people keep talking about music lessons so much if it’s only, well, music? What could music lessons possibly teach your child other than how not to deafen everyone at a karaoke night out when they grow up?

There are multiple reasons and, while she might not turn out to be the next Beethoven, she might have an easier time remembering stuff, interacting with people and developing important skills like discipline and patience. And it also helps lots with the thing most adults are terrified of: public speaking!

It improves academic skills

The high level of focus required to make a simple melody sound bearable on most instruments really helps the brain become smarter. It’s actually a lot like going to the gym in order to train the body to be better. An article in The Telegraph states that ‘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 new scientific evidence that attests to this claim.

So playing Mozart as a child can help you get a maths degree from Oxford? Apparently so!

It develops physical skills

Have you ever tried to thread a needle? Now have you also ever tried to do it in one go while a few hundred people are watching you?

Playing music takes a lot of physical accuracy. One millimeter too much to the left when playing a chord on the piano or too much weight on your bow on the violin and the results will awful and pretty noticeable to everyone! Music students must master very fine movements in order to sound good.

Certain instruments, such as the drums or the church organ, help children develop a very thorough coordination, as they require movement of the hands, arms, and feet. Enhancing coordination and perfect timing also help prepare children for other hobbies, such as dance and sports.

It enhances social skills

Once the basics of each instrument are in place, music becomes largely a collaborative art. Only very rarely do musicians perform entirely by themselves; most performances are made of at least two or more musicians sharing the stage together. They have to continually listen out to each other, to react to any changes and to do every crescendo and accelerando in the same way. All these are achieved through the even more socially demanding process of rehearsing, where, without effective communication and collaboration, nothing can really work.  These are the kinds of experiences we have in society as adults, so practicing group interaction and problem solving from a young age can only be beneficial.

It introduces children to the big world out there

Beethoven was Austrian, Chopin was Polish, Debussy was French, Vivaldi was Italian and Tchaikovsky Russian. Also, jazz originated in the American South, gospel has roots in Africa, the tango comes from Argentina and the rag from India.

There’s a big world out there and a music student experiences a lot of it when learning to play. This is especially helpful in our times, as some countries tend to lock themselves inwardly. A musician will almost always do the exact opposite!

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