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Two years ago, my wife and I started our oldest daughter, then six years old, in piano lessons. Both of us being musically oriented, we feel that music instruction is just as important as enrolling her in soccer, gymnastics or ballet.
But, when practice begins and the sound of scales badly played reverberates through the house, I began to wonder what was I thinking? Beyond the general discomfort of the first couple of years what are the benefits children receive from piano lessons?
Actually, there are many beneficial attributes children acquire from learning to tickle the ivory; the following are five of the most prevalent:
- Piano Lessons Help Children in School
The most talked about benefit children receive from piano lessons is that it also helps with their school lessons. Numerous studies available show children who play an instrument, score higher on both standard and spatial cognitive development tests alike. There are also findings that show kids who play piano, in particular, scored higher in math, especially on problems dealing with ratios and fractions.
In one particular study conducted by Dr. Frances Rauscher (a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh) and Gordon Shaw (a physicist at of the University of California at Irvine) tested preschoolers who received piano instruction. They found that preschoolers who received piano lessons scored 34% higher than their nonmusical counterparts in tests measuring spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the brain function used to understand math, science and engineering.
- Piano Lessons Raise Self Esteem
Learning to play the piano is hard work and takes dedication. Not only does each song mastered increase a child’s self-esteem, but showcasing their newly learned talents at piano recitals can boost their self esteem as much as winning a game in a sports competition.
Lessons also help kids to learn how to keep a positive outlook when facing difficult tasks. The understanding that mastering a new skill is a process that requires patience helps children to approach tasks with confidence, and not become discouraged or frustrated.
- Piano Lessons Increase Coordination
Increased eye-hand coordination is almost a given for children that learn to play the piano, but there is more than that. Kids who play the piano have improved fine motor skills and, unlike other instruments, the piano requires both hands to work independently of each other, one moving fast while the other may be moving at a slower rate. All of these things help to increase a child’s overall dexterity and complex thought processes.
- Piano Lessons Help Children to Concentrate
Reading a piece of music takes a great deal of focus, causing a child to interpret a note and a rhythm, translate it into hand movements on the keyboard and then immediately go on to the next one. Reading and playing music allows them to think both critically and creatively, which is a skill that will assist them in anything they choose to undertake in the future.
- Piano Lessons Help Children to be Well-Rounded
Regardless of whether a child plays the piano for a short time or for a lifetime, the long-term effects of their piano pursuance are many. Through playing the piano, children are exposed to classical music that they may otherwise have never heard. Kids may develop an appreciation for composers like Bach or Mozart that stay with them for life. In addition, the skills and knowledge they learn in piano may help them easily pick up another musical instrument later.
So, as I sit and listen to my little one, pounding painfully away on the black and whites, all I have to do is remember that as she continues to practice, she’ll be creating a great deal more than a few simple melodies, which is truly music to my ears.
Foundation for Universal Music Literacy Research Materials. How Music Can Dramatically Effect Your Child’s Development and Life-Time Success. 18 Oct. 2005.
Pianonet.com. Benefits of Playing the Piano.  18 Oct. 2005.
Pianonet.com. Discover Pianonet: Learn to Play.  18 Oct. 2005.
Begley, Sharon. Pianoiseasy.com. Music on the Mind.  18 Oct. 2005.
West Music. The Piano and Child Development. 18 Oct. 2005.
Essortment.com. Benefits of piano lessons for a beginner.  18 Oct. 2005.
Nearly everyone enjoys music, whether by listening to it, singing, or playing an instrument. But despite this almost universal interest, many schools are having to do away with their music education programs. This is a mistake, with schools losing not only an enjoyable subject, but a subject that can enrich students’ lives and education. Read on to learn why music education is so important, and how it offers benefits even beyond itself.
1. Musical training helps develop language and reasoning: Students who have early musical training will develop the areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. The left side of the brain is better developed with music, and songs can help imprint information on young minds.
2. A mastery of memorization: Even when performing with sheet music, student musicians are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization can serve students well in education and beyond.
3. Students learn to improve their work: Learning music promotes craftsmanship, and students learn to want to create good work instead of mediocre work. This desire can be applied to all subjects of study.
4. Increased coordination: Students who practice with musical instruments can improve their hand-eye coordination. Just like playing sports, children can develop motor skills when playing music.
5. A sense of achievement: Learning to play pieces of music on a new instrument can be a challenging, but achievable goal. Students who master even the smallest goal in music will be able to feel proud of their achievement.
6. Kids stay engaged in school: An enjoyable subject like music can keep kids interested and engaged in school. Student musicians are likely to stay in school to achieve in other subjects.
7. Success in society: Music is the fabric of our society, and music can shape abilities and character. Students in band or orchestra are less likely to abuse substances over their lifetime. Musical education can greatly contribute to children’s intellectual development as well.
8. Emotional development: Students of music can be more emotionally developed, with empathy towards other cultures They also tend to have higher self esteem and are better at coping with anxiety.
9. Students learn pattern recognition: Children can develop their math and pattern-recognition skills with the help of musical education. Playing music offers repetition in a fun format.
10. Better SAT scores: Students who have experience with music performance or appreciation score higher on the SAT. One report indicates 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math for students in music appreciation courses.
11. Fine-tuned auditory skills: Musicians can better detect meaningful, information-bearing elements in sounds, like the emotional meaning in a baby’s cry. Students who practice music can have better auditory attention, and pick out predictable patterns from surrounding noise.
12. Music builds imagination and intellectual curiosity: Introducing music in the early childhood years can help foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. Artistic education develops the whole brain and develops a child’s imagination.
13. Music can be relaxing: Students can fight stress by learning to play music. Soothing music is especially helpful in helping kids relax.
14. Musical instruments can teach discipline: Kids who learn to play an instrument can learn a valuable lesson in discipline. They will have to set time aside to practice and rise to the challenge of learning with discipline to master playing their instrument.
15. Preparation for the creative economy: Investing in creative education can prepare students for the 21st century workforce. The new economy has created more artistic careers, and these jobs may grow faster than others in the future.
16. Development in creative thinking: Kids who study the arts can learn to think creatively. This kind of education can help them solve problems by thinking outside the box and realizing that there may be more than one right answer.
17. Music can develop spatial intelligence: Students who study music can improve the development of spatial intelligence, which allows them to perceive the world accurately and form mental pictures. Spatial intelligence is helpful for advanced mathematics and more.
18. Kids can learn teamwork: Many musical education programs require teamwork as part of a band or orchestra. In these groups, students will learn how to work together and build camaraderie.
19. Responsible risk-taking: Performing a musical piece can bring fear and anxiety. Doing so teaches kids how to take risks and deal with fear, which will help them become successful and reach their potential.
20. Better self-confidence: With encouragement from teachers and parents, students playing a musical instrument can build pride and confidence. Musical education is also likely to develop better communication for students.
This article originally appeared on Bachelor’s Degree
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