What are the benefits of learning musical instruments for kids?
By now you have probably heard about the many benefits of learning a musical instrument, but did you know just how beneficial it can be for a child’s growth and development?
Many people highlight that learning a musical instrument can improve cognition, memory, strengthen comprehension skills and improve abstract thinking. All of these skills are important for both development and academic performance.
Unfortunately, even though studies and commentators continue to highlight the benefits, the number of children picking up an instrument continues to dwindle.
As a result, getting your child inspired and involved at an early stage in their development will hugely increase their chance of becoming a long term player.
The advantages of learning a musical instrument
For many decades people have suspected a link between learning music and a whole host of benefits to child development. In recent years many of these claims have been supported by various studies that have been published in some very prestigious academic journals.
This includes associations with improved academic performance, maths ability and a whole variety of other mental, physical and emotional advantages.
The best part is that many of these benefits extend to adults too, hence why fostering this hobby in your child may well be a worthy lifelong investment.
Learning music enhances cognitive function
For many years there has been an assumption that learning to play and read music can help improve children’s cognitive function. In some respects, recent studies seem to support this idea.
For example, one such study found that children who play an instrument have enhanced executive function. These are the cognitive pathways related to memory, attention and the capacity to perform several tasks at once.
If you consider how people learn music, this makes sense, as they must learn to understand beats, scales, notes and recognize different patterns simultaneously. These skills massively improve logical thinking and in turn help kids understand other topics that require similar modes of thinking, giving them an advantage in their academic life.
Musical training improves memory
Having a good memory is associated with academic competence and success. The good news is that studies have shown individuals that play an instrument have improved memory compared to those that have never played one.
As you can imagine, playing a musical instrument demands the player to read and understand complex verbal information, remember it and then play it back at will. This repeated activity involved in musical training is thought to be the major reason behind the association with memory enhancement.
One study in Nature observed that music training improves memory, specifically verbal memory. This further reinforces the idea that music may be beneficial for childhood development.
Emotional benefits of music
Playing music can really have a big impact on our mood and emotions and in some very different ways. For example, classical music is often associated with a calming effect and so is often played for study, while modern pop is high energy and often conjures thoughts of dancing.
Therefore playing different types of music can have big effect on emotions, therefore, helping children to further understand their own inner thoughts and feelings. Many people even claim that music helps kids develop emotional intelligence, which is an essential social skill.
Enhances listening skills
Learning music commands children to listen intently, to different sounds, note, speed, and rhythm. Not only does this mean listening to the instruments sounds, but their own inner dialogue and often the musical instructor directing them. Listening is a fundamental music skill.
Not only does listening help them to play better and gradually improve, but the natural reward of hearing their musical ability improve is a massive confidence boost that only motivates them to listen more intently.
This ability to listen is certainly a transferable skill that applies to almost every other academic subject. But listening itself is also a very useful skill to harness that will provide long term benefits in many areas of life.
Best instruments to learn for a child
Now that you are aware of the many of the benefits of learning a musical instrument or simply music training, you are probably curious to find out which instruments are best for kids.
In general, the right type of instrument will depend on a few factors, namely their age, level of ability and most importantly – their personal interest.
Typically infants and very young children won’t have the attention span or the will to play an instrument very well. Instead, it’s a better idea to let them explore different sounds with rudimentary instruments. You can use pots and pans, cardboard boxes and other common household items.
There are a variety of basic instruments that are designed for toddlers too, including drum kits, pianos and banjos. These are often small in design, very basic in terms of features but a great way to give younger kids a taste of playing real music.
By the time kids reach school age they are often very excited about music and usually more than willing to play an instrument. This is a great time to start letting them learn how to handle different instruments, learn different notes and even read music. You can start with the basics and progress onto more advanced concepts as they get the hang of it and build confidence.
Ideal musical instruments for beginners
If you really want to know what type of instrument is best for kids who are just starting out, the biggest factor is their own likes and dislikes. Some kids really take to a particular instrument, others remain indifferent and some absolutely hate a particular instrument so much that they completely refuse to play it.
With that said, popular instruments among schools include keyboards, recorders and guitars. These all work in various different ways and rely on different skills including breath and mouth control, finger dexterity and hand eye coordination. The only true way for your child to know what they prefer is to experiment.
For that reason, only invest in budget introductory instruments at first, or even better hire one. This will give your child the opportunity to test out the instrument and see if they like it before buying one.