Whilst being fun and social, extracurricular activities are also important in helping develop a child’s talents, interests, and passions. One particularly enriching activity is learning to play a musical instrument. There has long been a correlation between musical training and academic success, but there are other benefits too. By adding music to movement young kids gain so many more benefits beyond movement alone, and it is lots of fun! From developing their language, memory and social skills to creative thinking and focused listening, they also start to build music foundations such as singing in tune and moving in time. We’ve curated a list of benefits that hail from learning through music.
Nurtures Self-Esteem & Boosts Confidence – Learning an instrument provides little ones with an outlet to practice, listen to feedback, make adjustments and see positive changes. As they improve, they will build confidence and boosted self-esteem. The process of learning music will have your little one playing in front of other people. This could include playing in front of their teacher, playing at a seasonal recital, or playing for curious family and friends. This fosters the valuable expertise and grit necessary to confidently hold it together when other people are watching. This may even help children feel confident when presenting work in other contexts both in school and at home.
Encourages Self-Expression – Children who learn to play an instrument have an outlet for creativity and making their own choices, something which fosters self-expression. Music is one of the ways little ones can easily express emotions they may feel too uncomfortable or unable to talk about. By learning to play an instrument, kids can convey their emotions healthily and productively. The Arts present the perfect medium for children to express themselves. Children will also have the opportunity to make choices about the type of instruments they play, which will help to give them some autonomy over their learning.
Muscle Development – Playing music requires movement of the hands, arms, and feet, often in timing with an external stimulus, such as their classmates, or internal measures, such as simply keeping time. No other species on earth is capable of such sophisticated movement, and music is one of the ways we best learn to refine such motor skills in our early learning. String and keyboard instruments, like the violin and piano, require different actions from your right and left hands simultaneously. Learning a musical instrument enhances a child’s ability to use small, acute muscle movements to write, use a computer, and perform other physical tasks, such as sports.
Lifted Moods – Music triggers the brain to discharge the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. As a result, the child’s liveliness and attentiveness can improve as well. It is for this reason that many teachers use songs and music in the classroom.
Enhances Coordination – Playing an instrument means the brain has to work quickly and efficiently. Little ones have to concentrate on reading music and converting the notes into the physical motion of playing. As a result, children can significantly improve their hand-eye coordination. The trombone makes a good example; instead of keys or strings, a trombone’s slide tube has to be moved to the right position at the right time to achieve the correct note.
Increases Memory Capacity – As we age, it’s common to forget little things. But little ones can effectively improve memory skills at a young age by learning to play an instrument. Music teaches kids to effectively create, store and retrieve memories, similar to a workout for the brain. Playing the guitar, for example, requires memorizing which strings correspond with which notes and how to play chords with specific hand positions.
Fine Motor Skills – Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles that control the hand, fingers, and thumb, they help children perform important tasks. By combining playing an instrument with cross-lateral body movements like swaying and waving can lead to improvements in motor skills and mental ability. Some musical instruments involve the movement of the hand, arms, feet, and legs. These instruments are best for high-energy children. Instruments like guitar, violin, and piano call for different actions from both hands at the same time. These instruments not only help develop complex motor skills but also build self-confidence in children. It also improves coordination and timing for little ones to engage in other activities like sports and dance.
Improves Reading Skills – To play an instrument, little ones will improve their comprehension by learning to play sheet music, which requires identifying a note on the page and associating it with the pitch on their instrument. As their skills develop, they will start to read and play more fluidly. For a child playing the trumpet, which only has three pistons to control airflow and create notes, they will have to read music while also using hand combinations to create specific notes.
Music Increases Blood Flow To The Brain – Studies have found that short bursts of musical training increase the blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain.
Musical Training Strengthens The Brain’s Executive Function – Executive function covers critical tasks like processing and retaining information, controlling behaviour, making decisions, and problem-solving. Musical training can improve and strengthen executive functioning in both children and adults.
Multisensory Learning – Playing an instrument is a rich and complex experience. This is because it’s integrating information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, along with fine movements. This can result in long-lasting changes in the brain.
Promotes Math Skills – Playing an instrument seems creative and often groups in with promoting a child’s artistic side. But music also holds parallels to math, allowing kids to think critically and develop their problem-solving skills. Little ones will have to count, understand beats, listen to scales and play with the rhythm, all of which are measured in numbers. The drums make an excellent example, as timing is crucial to make the right sounds and create a cohesive tempo.