What do Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Mahatma Gandhi have in common aside from making significant contributions in their respective fields? They all know how to play an instrument or two! Steven Spielberg can play the clarinet; Albert Einstein played the piano and violin; Benjamin Franklin played several instruments including the guitar and violin; and Mahatma Gandhi played the concertina.
Although people who play instruments do not have a monopoly on accomplishment and success, several studies have shown that musical training can help set up your child for success. There are many things your child can nurture and develop when they study music. It starts with early exposure – the earlier, the better. Here’s why it's good to make music a significant part of your child’s growth and development:
1. It trains him to be focused and disciplined. Learning music is not easy – it takes a lot of hard work, focus, and discipline. All the tasks that are involved in learning music such as reading notes, playing the notes on the instrument, and putting all the notes together to be able to play a piece on the instrument smoothly, will help develop better mental focus that are necessary for these tasks. Your child will also learn the discipline of regular practice to be good at it.
2. Your child will learn how to collaborate. Music in any form often includes collaboration. Whether it is with his music teacher or with another music student, learning music will provide your child with opportunities to collaborate with other people. When your child gets a chance to play an instrument with a group or an ensemble, he will get a very acute understanding of how important it is to work together to be able to play a piece well.
3. It will nurture his creativity. Music is an expression of creativity and learning it is just another medium with which your child can nurture his creativity. Even very young kids explore their creativity when handed a musical instrument to tinker with. Whether it is changing just a few notes in a piece or coming up with his own composition, music can provide unlimited opportunities for your child to explore his creative side.
4. It will improve his problem-solving skills. If music will nurture your child’s creativity, then he will also develop his problem-solving skills. Having a musically creative mind will help make it easier to find solutions to a problem and to think out of the box.
5. It builds up his confidence. Imagine not knowing how to play an instrument, working hard at it for months, and then being able to play a complete piece in front of an audience – that’s all the confidence booster your child may need!
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6. It will improve his memory. Learning music also involves a lot of memory work. It starts from making sure you know what each note is and how to play it on your instrument, and ultimately, being able to play a whole piece just from memory.
7. It will teach your child to plan and strategize. Playing a musical instrument is a complex mental task. It involves a lot of planning and strategizing. Your child will learn to read music and to read it quickly enough to play it smoothly, to tap into the motor skills necessary to play the notes he is seeing, and to plan the next parts of the piece – and all of these happen inside your child’s head!
8. It will help develop critical thinking. Music involves a lot of patterns. Playing music involves putting several notes together, repeating them in patterns, understanding how different notes sound together, and then applying these patterns to be able to create a good harmony. This skill of pattern recognition and abstract reasoning are crucial aspects of critical thinking which your child will be able to apply in various real life situations.
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9. It will develop his emotional intelligence. They say that music is the language of the soul. It taps into the emotions and can make your child more attuned to different kinds of emotions, helping him to recognize these in himself and in others.