The strumming of a guitar, the trills of a flute, the pounding of drums — no matter the instrument, the magic of music has the ability to captivate and transport us.
There are many benefits that come from learning to play an instrument, especially for children. Music lessons, while often thought of as an additional extracurricular activity, are actually a valuable investment in a child’s future.
How Music Makes Kids Grow
Music is a universal language. It’s more than just a series of notes — it also helps with mental, emotional and social growth.
Many studies have found a positive correlation between music education and cognitive development. A 2013 study conducted by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital found that early music training can lead to changes in the brain that help in processing the integration of sound and movement.
Children who learn to play an instrument tend to have a better memory, attention and problem-solving skills. Reading music, translating it to hand or finger movements, and making sound is a complex activity that stimulates multiple areas of the brain at the same time.
Music has therapeutic qualities. Learning an instrument can be a source of pride, boosting a child’s self-esteem. It also teaches patience and perseverance, as mastering an instrument takes time and dedicated practice. Children learn to handle frustrations, set goals and celebrate their achievements.
Playing an instrument often involves group activities, like ensembles or bands. These can help teach children teamwork, communication, and how to work with others.
Choosing the Perfect Music Lesson for Your Child
There are so many options available today for young musicians that it might seem overwhelming to parents. But choosing the right lesson doesn’t have to be a difficult task.
Identify Your Child’s Interest
Before diving into lessons, gauge your child’s interest. Do they gravitate towards a particular instrument when watching performances, or is there an instrument they seem excited to try?
It’s important to ensure that the instrument aligns with their interest in order to help them keep with it. Many music schools and band programs offer instrument try-ons to help kids find a good match.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra offers the Teddy Bear Concert Series, a lively series of performances created for children ages 3 to 7 years old. Besides listening to great music, the audience is invited to try the instruments and talk to the musicians.
Start Early, But Not Too Early
While it helps to introduce children to music at a young age, pushing them too early might backfire. For instance, while a 4-year-old might be ready for a ukulele or a keyboard, they might find it challenging to handle a full-sized violin or saxophone.
Research the Teacher
A teacher’s expertise and teaching style play a significant role in a child’s musical journey. Look for instructors who are knowledgeable and are good with children. It helps to attend a trial lesson or observe a class to ensure compatibility. Also consider things like the location, duration, cost, and the commitment involved. Some children (and parents) might be ready for intensive training, while others might want to start with shorter, more frequent sessions.
The Music Teachers National Association (mtna.org) is a great place to begin looking for a music instructor.
Consider Group vs. Individual Lessons
Individual lessons provide tailored attention, but group lessons can be more interactive and fun, and allow children to learn from their peers. Depending on your child’s personality and learning style, you can decide which setting might be best.
School of Rock (schoolofrock.com) has several locations throughout the area that offer both individual and group lessons.
Parents play a big role in their child’s musical journey. Attend their recitals, listen to their practice sessions and provide constructive feedback. Your involvement can be motivating and encouraging to your child!
Hitting the Crescendo
With music lessons, it’s important to remember that the journey is more important than the destination. Whether your child goes on to become a professional musician or simply enjoys playing an instrument as a hobby, the skills and experiences gained are what truly count.