Can music lessons boost a child’s study skills at school?
Remus Badea, Executive Director, American Music Institute
There are growing numbers of studies that show how music engages many areas of the brain involved in language processing, memory, and other critical thinking skills essential for academic success. The studies also show that music benefits children socially and emotionally. Therefore, music education helps children in education and development, which are key areas in a child’s school life.
In my opinion, music lessons improve a child’s intelligence and social and emotional development. Here are different ways in which music helps children study at school;
- Language processing – studies show that the brain processes music and language in the same way. Therefore, learning music can have a positive impact by improving language-related skills. A study also shows that mastering a musical instrument improves the way the human brain processes parts of spoken language. This is corroborated by another study which shows that music increases the physical development of the left side of the brain.
- Spatial knowledge – this is the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things. There is a causal link between music and spatial knowledge. This knowledge is necessary for the kids pursuing mathematics as it is the kind of thinking that is critical in solving mathematical problems. A Researcher in Canada has showed that music students perform well in mathematical tests of computation and estimation.
- Memory – Research shows that children with musical training show better verbal memory than peers who don’t practice music. Memorizing music pieces led to improvements in non-musical memory. This can help when it comes to activities such a class presentations.
- Self-awareness – Dr. Frank Wilson, a specialist in human cognitive development explains that the study of music teaches children to self-assess rather than rely on external rewards. Music can foster self-motivation. He says that the attention required to play an instrument encourages self-surveillance which leads to the child being his/her own work critic.
- Social skills – participating in group music classes brings about a bonding experience. This is because the experience brings about shared memories and develops teamwork and discipline. For example, for an orchestra to sound good, all the players must play their parts harmoniously to produce that final piece. The discipline is gained by the fact that these individuals have to attend rehearsals and practice.
- Self-esteem – self-esteem is boosted by music. A child who uses music to express him or herself tends to have increased self-esteem. The self-expression that produces this growth in self-esteem enables the student to reach a higher stage of personal development. Everyone has a need to be in touch with his/her core, that is, what he is or feels inside.
- Music also provides children with work place skills – the diversity and flexibility acquired by children pursuing music are immeasurable. Musical culture focuses on “doing” rather than observing and teaches students how to perform literally anywhere in the world. As earlier discussed on the contribution of music to language development and its impact on team work, these are skills that will help the individuals in the work place; they will communicate and cooperate more effectively with other employees in a job environment.
Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and takes risks. With continuous stage performances, children learn to deal with anxiety early in life. This enables a child to be confident enough to take initiative when it comes to their goals. Risk taking is necessary for a child to develop to their full potential.
Music education improves the quality of work by the child both in class and during other activities, for example, their extra-curricular activities. Students learn craftsmanship and they learn what constitutes good work and mediocre work. Children learn creative thinking skills through music which help them in their daily problems and encounters. Music students are able to think of new solutions to problems and ignoring outdated solutions and assumptions.
The academic results of students who have taken music are higher than those of students who haven’t had any experience in music. This is not surprising considering that children who take music have increased memory, increased ability to do mathematics, and improved language memory. They have higher academic success than those who did not pursue music.
Music has a strong and positive impact on the child’s school performance.
Music contributes to a child’s stability and health and their ability to be independent. Enrolling your child in a music class will make parenting easier and, better yet, your child will be mentally healthier and more mature.
Remus Badea is Concertmaster of Southwest Symphony Orchestra, adjunct professor at Elmhurst College, and Executive Director of American Music Institute. He teaches violin, viola, cello, and piano.