As a parent you may have heard the claim that playing an instrument makes your child smarter, but why is that? What tangible benefits does playing music have on a child’s development?
Let’s go over some of the numerous benefits that music can have on the growing mind of a child!
Research has shown that children who learn music tend to show a much higher aptitude in non-musical subjects, such as science and maths. Exposing your child to a range of mental stimuli helps to influence brain growth. This is true for any activity, but more so for music. According to Dr Richard Letts of the Music Council of Australia; “If a person is engaged in making music, the brain will grow to support the activity as it would for any activity – but in the case of music it appears other abilities also increase. The consequence is that children who study music have an accelerated learning in other academic subjects.”
A 2009 study showed that, for children, musical experience and exposure for as little as 15 months can lead to structural brain changes that can result in it improvements to auditory and motor skills. (1)
Learning music also affects a child’s thought process and discipline in problem solving. Children learn that focus and discipline yield rewards, and that giving up after your first failure is a sure-fire way to achieve nothing.
Problem solving is a key aspect of learning music, and while children may have practice with problem solving in maths classes or similar subjects, music adds a whole new dimension to that thought process. Music students are required to think creatively and outside of the box to reach solutions, as most problems in music don’t have a single correct answer.
Researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital have found that early musical training can help children improve their executive functions, which enable people to regulate behaviour, retain information, and become a more effective problem-solver. (2)
Music is also a fantastic group exercise. Enrolling your child in school bands and/or group music lessons can help with the development of teamwork skills. In a band, all the students are working together to achieve a single goal, and therefore must learn how to effectively cooperate with the people around them. To succeed, your child must learn how to listen to others in the band, react accordingly, play together, and generally learn how to work well with others as a team. This is not to mention the benefit that joining a band or group can have on a child’s social skills. It’s extremely common for children to make lifelong friends in bands and music lessons.
As well as a social aid, music helps to drastically improve a child’s performance skills. Activities such as performing in a school band, at a music school concert, or in a choir, all help to increase a child’s aptitude for performing. The benefits of this are not just musical, however, but apply to all aspects of life. Giving a work presentation can be a nerve-wracking experience for many adults, but not to those with experience performing. Making performance a natural thing at a young age can really benefit a child later in life. Not only does this experience help with performing or presenting, but it also helps with simply making a child more outgoing and confident in social situations.
Music is a wonderful thing for growing minds, and the more exposure a child gets to it, the more it helps their mind become set for life. Everyone can benefit from learning music, but the benefits that music has on the development of a child’s mind makes in an almost essential activity.
- 1. Hyde et al. 2009, Journal of Neuroscience 29(10): 3019-3025).
- 2. Zuk et al. Behavioral and Neural Correlates of Executive Functioning in Musicians and Non-Musicians. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (6): e99868 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0099868