10/3/17 at 12:03 PM 0 Comments

Why Learning Music Is Good for Kids’ Brains

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With parents’ busy lives and kids’ demanding school schedules, it can be tough to choose the right extracurricular activity for your daughter or son. There are a lot of terrific options for kids these days, each offering different benefits, but here are just a few ways music education can help your child!

Improves Academic Performance

Music education has proven to be an excellent tool for improving children's academic performance, particularly in math. Music is a fantastic way to practice real-world mathematical concepts. Western music (i.e. everything from Mozart to Hip-Hop to K-Pop) is based on the 12-tone system, meaning there are 12 separate pitches between octaves. All music we hear in our everyday lives is based around patterns between these 12 notes, between measures (often of 3 or 4 beats, but there are many more possibilities). Patterns which sound “good” to our ears, like a major chord or a V-I cadence, are mathematically linked by the frequency of each pitch involved. Children who have been instructed in the concepts of scales, beat, and rhythm have shown an increased ability to divide, multiply, recognize patterns and work with fractions. Learning music through the memorization of these patterns also helps students with both short term and long term memory. This could be a possible reason why so many many successful musicians are able to overcome their ADD and ADHD.

Aids in Socialization

It’s no secret that children are growing up in a more and more connected world than we did. It’s crucial for kids to be assertive, but still able to work well with others. Music does a great job of instilling collaboration and confidence at an early age. Playing music in a band or an orchestra requires you to work together, but also hold your own. It puts you in a unique position where you have to give it 100% without stealing the spotlight - If you make a mistake, it might throw everybody else off, but you also can’t be a showoff and give yourself a spontaneous solo. Kids who play music with a group learn how their individual input impacts the greater good, which is a vital part of teamwork.

Broadens Horizons

Studying music exposes children to different styles, genres and eras of music that they might not otherwise listen to. By extension, they also learn more about the cultures they represent and the history behind the music. Music can be a portal to places and time periods, which gives you a first hand, emotional diary of what it was like to be there. For instance, when you play Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, you also learn about how Beethoven originally wrote the piece as a tribute to Napoleon, who he thought was a great democratic leader. When Beethoven found out that Napoleon declared himself emperor, he was so disillusioned that he erased the dedication from the page. This gives a unique perspective of public opinion of the German people during the Napoleonic wars.

Bolsters Self Esteem

Learning music can also be a great way to bolster your child’s self-esteem. As any musician knows, learning an instrument doesn't happen overnight. It takes practice, perseverance, and an ability to receive constructive criticism: all great virtues for ambitious kids. No matter how technically or creatively skilled an individual becomes on their instrument, there will always be new challenges for that performer to overcome. Take bassist Victor Wooten, for example. Wooten has made a career for himself by pushing the limits of the bass guitar, but despite being considered one of the greatest electric bassists alive, he still makes plenty of “mistakes” during live performances. My childhood music instructor proudly displayed a “practice makes perfect” poster in her room, with the “perfect” decisively crossed out and replaced with “professionals”. Understanding that mistakes happen is a life skill that we all still might struggle with from time to time. It is what we do after mistakes that really makes the difference. If children are able to take pointers and critiques and turn them into better finished products, it builds self confidence and self reliance. This key skill is important later on in life for things public speaking, interviewing, and for building personal relationships.

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