The Benefits of a Musical Education for Children and Adults
By John Park
You probably have heard that learning music can be beneficial for many reasons. When you search for “benefits of a musical education” online, you will find a wealth of articles on the topic. Many of those articles result from serious scientific study.
As a music teacher, I experience all those benefits with my students every day in my music studio. I’ve tried to put some of my favorite ones here to share with you.
If you are a music student or a student’s parent, this will give you even more meaning and motivation for you or your child to learn. If you are a person who has never learned to play music but are interested in learning to play, this article can inspire you to kickstart your musical journey.
Music Lessons Encourage Brain Development
When you learn to play a musical instrument, the process changes the anatomy and function of your brain. Do these changes remain, after your musical training stops?
A group of scientists explored this very question. In their research, they measured the auditory brain stem responses in a group of healthy young adults, some of whom had undergone various levels of musical training in the past.
The researchers discovered that those in the group who received formal music lessons when they were children had more robust responses to sound in the brain stem than those who hadn’t any musical training.
The intensity of the test subjects’ responses correlated with how recently their training stopped. In fact, the test results indicated that the brain changes that happened during childhood musical training stayed with the subjects even into adulthood.
Specific Cognitive Benefits of Musical Training
In other studies, researchers found that musical training has a direct correlation with improved language and mathematical abilities, as well as with higher IQs and greater overall academic achievement.
These studies have also shown—many times over—that children who learn to play a musical instrument improve memory, concentration, and social skills. As for adult learners, music study improves their memory, general cognitive function, and processing abilities.
Music is incredibly powerful for people—both in mind and body.
A Musical Education Brings You Enjoyment
Most people like to listen to music. The joy you feel from playing music, though, is a whole different story.
When you’re first learning to play, it’s exciting to hear the sounds you can coax out of the instrument. Once you grasp the basics, however, playing music gives you a different kind of joy.
But when you finally learn to play a song you like, it’s such an incredible sensation! It’s exhilarating—you want to go deeper inside the world of music to play even more beautiful tunes.
Yes, watching TV and playing games are fun. But the enjoyment you have from playing music is fun on a whole new level.
I see how excited my young students become when they start learning the Harry Potter theme. And as for my adult students, they say that playing music is a sanctuary from their busy lives.
Music Lessons Expand Your Self-Expression
Self-expression is a key ingredient in a healthy emotional life. It allows us to describe how we feel without even a word—especially when that self-expression is through music.
We need to feel like someone’s listening. Music does that.
Through the experience of playing and writing music, we can express our thoughts and feelings—and share them with others. Music can be a powerful tool that expresses your emotions. It goes beyond language and connects us at a deeper level.
In fact, musicians often find themselves playing music that aligns with their mood to release energy. By playing music you feel aligned with, it can give you tremendous emotional relief. That goes equally for both children and adults.
To get that kind of relief, you don’t have to be a conservatory-trained musician. It’s more about the process of doing.
Learning Music Helps Strengthen Your Social Skills
When you learn to play a musical instrument, you have a lot of opportunities to work with other people. Whether you play in a rock band or orchestra–or even as a duet–you or your child will learn how to communicate with other people through music and words.
When there is an ultimate mutual goal — beautiful sound — to achieve together, you will develop your social skills, no matter how shy you are at first.
Playing Music Benefits Your Health
For adult learners, there are clear health benefits for learning to play music. In reducing overall levels of stress, music also lowers blood pressure, which supports better health overall. These days, children, too, have a lot more stress and anxiety than ever before.
There also seems to be an increased number of children with ADHD and autism. Music lessons can help those children learn to relax during tense situations, a skill that will help them throughout their lives.
Music Lessons Build Confidence
One of the great things we’ve learned about music is this: everyone starts in the same place. At some point, everyone is a beginner. For both children and adults, seeing themselves progress from beginners to more advanced students will build confidence in their skills and abilities.
When we see that we’ve been able to learn something new in one area, it helps us be willing to try and learn something new in another area.
By learning to practice regularly and witnessing the improvement that comes from that practice, you see that hard work really does pay off. Through this process, you build the kind of confidence that you can apply in every area of life.
Hope you enjoyed this post and can enjoy its benefits even more through our own musical journey.
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