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Children have so much to do these days, with piles of homework, foreign languages to learn and various clubs and activities. With all of this going on, it may seem that music, learning a musical instrument, would simply be adding to the burden. But think on this: imagine a world with no music. Imagine that we were all too busy to learn how to play. No music, no singing. What a joyless place the world would be.
Music has been around for millennia, transcending cultures, times, races, continents. All human societies have some form of music, from simple drums and clapped rhythms, to wooden flutes, to sophisticated electronic equipment. Music, it seems, is part of our very existence.
But why learn to play? There are in fact many reasons why you should not only encourage your child to learn a musical instrument, but also to learn yourself, if you don’t already play an instrument.
The Social Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument
If you play an instrument, you get to meet other musicians. A child can join a club or a youth orchestra and learn to play as part of a group. This teaches a number of social skills; how to take turns, productive interaction, relating properly to others that you rely on to play their part, discipline, and cooperation. Quite apart from those points, it is an opportunity to meet more people and make more friends, ones who have a shared interest with you. They too are learning the same discipline and dedication as your child, meaning that they will have well-balanced friends too.
Added to this is the matter of patience. We live in a world of instant gratification; we want everything now and our children grow up to expect that. But this does not work with music. You cannot learn to play immediately by pressing a button, no matter how talented you are. It takes years of effort and practice, which helps to build patience; an important skill to have in relationships with other people as much as with music.
These points can, in turn, help in another important way.
As your social skills improve in general so does your confidence. You can develop a sense of achievement, an opportunity to take pride in something done well. Imagine the satisfaction of tackling a difficult piece of music, taking time to practice it before mastering it and playing it well.
This will help build your child’s confidence, which should spread to other areas of their life too, including, but not limited to, school.
Does music make you smarter? This is a claim that you may see made on various sites around the internet, and it is a claim that can be disputed. It cannot be proved either way, of course, but what is certainly true is that learning to play an instrument cultivates the brain, and extensive research done in this area has shown in study after study that children who learn to play an instrument do better in academic subjects, especially maths and science.
In a research paper on spatial-temporal reasoning in young children, it was reported that music is by far superior to computers in greatly improving children’s abstract reasoning skills.
Playing a musical instrument can be beneficial if you are stressed. Researchers have found that regular playing brings relief and helps you to unwind and relax. Studies have even shown that playing an instrument can lower the heart rate and blood pressure, which contributes to relieving us of stress.
Of course, you might be thinking that you can achieve the same effect simply by putting the radio on and listening to a relaxing tune, but that is a passive activity. Actually participating in the music enhances the effect.
Life can get us down at times, make us feel stressed as we get stuck into a routine of work-home-work or school-homework-school. Music can help us to break up that routine and do something creative. It is enjoyable to listen to, and many budding musicians will try out some notes of their own as they are learning. They may not compose great musical masterpieces, but these simple tunes are an outlet for their own creativity, a means to express themselves.
Let’s face it, playing an instrument is fun! Once you get past the beginning stage of not knowing which way to hold it or approach it, you can start to enjoy yourself, and it is a source of fun and enjoyment that can last a lifetime.