Aside from the possibility of living out your dreams of being the next Justin Bieber (or their parent!) – there are a bunch of other reasons why getting music lessons early in life can be a really great idea.
The brain develops at a rapid rate between birth and three and this is an essential window for the development of neurons. Encouraging musical exploration is an easy way to promote significant intellectual development.
Before the age of three, toy instruments can be an excellent introduction to the real thing and group musical play classes can prepare a child for later study. Singing at any age has been proven to be beneficial and linguistic & musical awareness can begin as early as the fifth month of pregnancy when the fetal brain and ears are wide open to receive stimulus of any kind.
From the tender age of 3, a child’s brain circuits are mature enough to begin instrumental and/or vocal lessons.
Since Howard Gardner’s “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” in 1983 and Gordon Shaw and Francis Rauscher’s “Mozart Effect” in 1993, there has be much debate and research into whether or not music study can be linked to better academic performance. Many leading universities have conducted extensive research into the amazing impact of music on the brain.
You will find thousands of books, products, articles and websites discussing the advantages of studying music. For your convenience, the top 20 benefits reported for vocal and instrumental music study are listed below.
- Musical training has been linked to spatial-temporal reasoning skills. (i.e. ability to read a map, put puzzles together, form mental images, transform/visualize things in space that unfold over time, and recognize relationships between objects. These skills are often helpful in science, math, and chess.)
- Musical symbols, structure, and rhythmic training utilises fractions, ratios, and proportions, which are all important in mathematical study.
- Music increases problem finding/solving, logic and thinking skills like analysis, evaluation and the linkage/organization of ideas.
- Music optimises brain neuron development & circuitry.
- Music assists motor development especially coordination of hands, eyes and body.
- Music expands multiple intelligences and helps students transfer study, cognitive and communication skills from subject to subject in any syllabus.
- Group orchestra or ensemble activities help promote cooperation, social harmony and teach kids discipline while working together toward a common goal.
- Music augments memory. For example, most people learn their ABC’s by singing them. Repeating a tune in a predictable rhythmic song structure makes memorization easier.
- Singing is a great way to aid/improve reading ability and instruction. Karaoke is a perfect example. Children may learn a song by ear (auditory) but words on a TV or screen provide a simultaneous visual anchor.
- In vocal music learning rhythm, phrasing, and pitch greatly enhances language, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary skills. This is especially noticeable when using songs in first and second language study.
- Music improves critical reading and writing.
- Music raises test scores, decreases performance anxiety, and teaches kids how to handle/manage stress during standardized exams.
- Music helps children channel unexpressed and/or negative emotions in a positive way.
- Music boosts creative thinking.
- Reading music and performing memorised pieces help children to think ahead.
- Improvisation helps people to “think on their feet”.
- Solo performance is connected to self-esteem & self-efficacy. It helps children strive for their very best. (see Bandura’s “the concept of self-efficacy”)
- When kids prepare and consistently practice for recital or performance, they work to sing/play without errors. They generally apply similar determination and perseverance to many future endeavors academic or otherwise.
- Music improves understanding of homework and enables a higher levels of concentration.
- Children who study music usually have a better attitude, are more motivated and are less intimidated by learning new things.
Strong music reading, writing notation, sight singing (solfege), music theory, literacy, and moving the body to music are solid, transferable skills.
As early as the 19th century, Dr. Maria Montessori included music and arts into her worldwide school curriculums to greatly enhance and accelerate learning.
‘Lorna Heyge, Ph.D., says:
“While educational leaders turn to early childhood music because it promotes brain development, they will stay with music because of the joy and stimulation experienced in actual music making. Music learning requires total involvement – and that is why it appeals so much to young children”