Fall is in full swing. Between school, homework, sports teams, and clubs there is an overwhelming number of activities that are clamoring for your child's time and undiscovered skills. Should you sign him up for soccer or piano lessons? Take him fishing or to the movies? How many activities can he participate in before he--and you!--burn out?
Given how busy our lives our, prioritizing activities can be difficult. Each activity has the potential to teach your child valuable skills, and may even turn into a career or hobby later in life.
If you're debating whether music lessons are worth your child's time and your money, here are five reasons that may help you make your decision.
Music educates the whole child - From day one, children learn notes, rhythms, melodies and scales. But, they're actually learning much more than that. They are learning to interact with other people and becoming better acquainted with themselves as well. Music stimulates the vestibular system, which helps all the senses coordinate with one another. According to Howard Gardner, who wrote Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, music may also be "a privileged organizer of cognitive processes in any subject, especially among young people." In other words, music education extends beyond music education. It affects a child's social behavior and success in other subjects as well.
Music helps children understand culture - According to Kimberly Balls, a junior studying music education at Brigham Young University, "Many of the songs that have stood the test of time are folk songs. They maintain the speech patterns, traditions and more of any given culture. The folk songs of different countries are as different as the countries themselves." Music from countries all over the world can be incorporated into your music education many ways whether you're a singer, dancer or tuba player.
Music helps establish group identity - Anyone who has watched a battle scene or sports movie knows this. It's the music that makes the scene. It brings everyone together and makes that stirring speech all the more inspiring. Participating in a choir, band, or piano duet can be a really special experience as well. Working with someone else to create music binds you together in a way that can't really be explained.
Music helps you express your feelings - One reason music is so powerful is that it has the ability to say things that you can't say in words. Some people have a difficult time expressing feelings and rely on music to help them sort through their emotions. I do this all the time. Whenever I'm stressed out, angry, sad or trying to make a difficult decision, I sit at my piano and pound on the keys for an hour or so. When I'm finished, I feel much more calm and able to tackle life's problems again.
Music is physical - Participating in music lessons provides many of the same benefits as participating in sports. Teamwork, discipline, focus, and fun are just some of them. Music lessons will also improve your child's thinking skills and physical coordination. It's not as physical as soccer, true, but it does require you to move around. Children need all the physical stimulation they can get, which is easily accomplished with singing and practice sessions.
Your child needs more than the basics to be successful. A full and productive life also requires social skills, discipline, cooperation, and creative thinking--all learned from the training that music lessons provide. And there is one more benefit of music lessons: they can be really fun, not just for your child, but for the whole family.