Students are expected to do a lot.
Maybe your student participates in martial arts, or other team sports, in addition to their daily tasks of school and the required homework, let alone time for themselves or to develop themselves socially, or bond with family. So at this point, as a parent you might be asking yourself, ‘what are the benefits of enrolling my student in music?’ And ‘should I really add this on top of the other
ctivities they are doing?’ Of course, overloading your student could be detrimental to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. That being said, there are probably more benefits to your student playing music than you think! Let’s explore a few of them.
- Forming a community:
This might be one of the biggest reasons students remain in musical groups for so long, or even join them in the first place. Many a high schooler has joined choir because their friend did, and just as many instrumentalists have kept at their instruments for the same reason. Several of my own friends are proof of this.
Having a group of people who are there with you, creating with you, going to the same late night rehearsals, is as invaluable as it is heartwarming. And if your student is taking lessons on a solo instrument, this point is just as valid. Going to the studio, meeting peers in competitions, these are all valuable community building experiences. In my experience, I have found few bonds stronger, or formed faster than my relationships through music.
- Music uses both sides of the brain:
There is plenty of data to support this. While a lot of brain activity does take place on the right side due to the creative nature of the activity, the left side of the brain is also used, due to the highly logical and mathematical nature one uses to analyze and read music. Since music uses and simulates the different parts of the brain, it not only helps develop the mind of your student, but later in life, playing instruments has been linked to lower risks of alziemers and dementia.
2. Improves memory and mental sharpness:
Music is such a workout for your brain, it actually reduces reaction time in the multi-sensory processors in your brain, according to a 2017 study from Montreal. It also improves your memory and spatial reasoning skills.
1. Stress Relief:
Both playing and listening to music is linked to increased dopamine production in the brain! This “happy chemical” Is an important part of good mental health, and music helps create it. Also, the wholehearted focus required to learn an instrument is a good tactic to redirect stressful or anxious energies into a productive activity that will make your student feel accomplished!
This is perhaps the benefit that most people think of when they contemplate the benefits of playing music. And for good reason! All music is an emotional expression, regardless of whether you are the performer, the conductor, or the composer. Improvisation is particularly linked to self-expression, since it lifts the composer-imposed ideas on what the melody should be saying. As Beethoven said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable.”
This is a skill music taught me that I treasure above almost all of the others! To play an instrument well, one MUST play confidently. There is simply no way around it. Particularly on the more temperamental instruments, they smell fear! But once you have to fake confidence for long enough, you begin to feel like you’re not faking it. And that is a powerful thing.
1. Patience and Delayed Gratification:
Patience is undoubtedly one of the most prominent life skills acquired through dedicated and consistent music practice and performance. Learning any instrument is an exercise in delayed gratification, as it takes a minimum of a year for a new student to build up notable skill in the area.
For some instruments, it takes even longer. Not only is the learning of the instrument itself a trial of patience, but being in an ensemble is as well. The director often works different sections at a time, which may or may not include the instrument your student is playing at the time. For example, if your student plays trombone, the director eventually will have to work a spot in the music which includes only woodwinds. The director might also choose to work by musical sections, for example working with only the flutes for a brief period of time.
Also, the learning of a single piece of music itself can take months, whether your student is a solo performer or in an ensemble. Either way, the patience with oneself required to learn the piece over a long period of time is extensive.
2. Time management:
This is another skill that is clearly developed by the practice of music. As both a solo performer and a member of an ensemble, your student will be responsible for their own practice. Due to your student’s busy schedule, fitting in even 15 min of practice on their instrument can be hard! But to have the most efficient improvement, they must practice at least a few times a week. And so, scheduling that time, as well as scheduling methodical music practice, develops their skill of time management.
3. Teamwork and Coordination with Others:
This skill becomes particularly notable when your student is a member of an ensemble. The daily act of working with peers to create is something that is not only a powerful way to make personal connections, friends, and a community, but will also develop your student’s prowess in a group, whether as a teammate or a leader. This is a capability they will definitely use for the rest of their life.
Whether your student is playing their instrument in practice, rehearsal, or performance, it requires focus. Sometimes for hours on end, it can be exhausting! But it certainly forms those pathways in your student’s brain, and makes it easier for them to direct their focus onto other activities and tasks.
5. Creative problem solving:
This skill might be particularly evident if your student does a lot of practicing, or is a solo performer. As people and musicians, different things are harder for different students! If your student works on self-improvement a lot, they have to find a way around those aspects of music that are difficult for them. That might mean thinking about it in a different way, or moving in a different way, or changing the way they have their hands or embouchure. The possibilities are only as limited as your student’s imagination! So finding that key to making that impossible skill a doable one is a trait your student will doubtlessly appreciate later in life.
6. Self awareness and Self analysis:
Playing music requires constant self-evaluation. Whether it is during practice, during rehearsal, or after performance, accurate analysis of one’s playing is one of the most important tools for improving. Therefore, your student should always be asking themselves, ‘what could have gone better about that?’ and ‘what went well?’ Both positive and negative self-feedback is critical. This practice in honest and specific self-analysis will make your student not only more capable of pre-emptively avoiding mistakes, but will also give your student a greater self awareness of performances both in music and in other life activities.
So here I have listed just a few of the benefits your student will have from playing music! It will benefit them mentally, emotionally, and socially, as well as develop a host of important life skills that will serve them well into adulthood. There are a lot of reasons to enroll your student in music, as well as the fact that they probably will enjoy it!
For all the reasons I have listed, the most important reason I continued with music, is that there is simply nothing that makes me feel happier than music done well.