Should music play a role in your child's education? Experts think so. According to the National Association for Music Education, music in the classroom is important for several reasons, among them -- the development of vital skills students need to be successful in life.
In young students, playing an instrument helps in the development of motor and coordination skills. And as children age and progress through the grades, participation in music helps enhance social and emotional skills as well. There's even evidence that learning to read and play music helps to better develop the left side of the brain -- the area that regulates language and reasoning.
Music also teaches children to have patience as it can mean many hours of practice. Alongside this it promotes a sense of responsibility as children need to take ownership for the progression, whether that be through spending time practising, carrying out the maintenance of their instrument or attending lessons.
Experts have known for awhile that children who participate in music education tend to perform better academically. Overall, they get higher grades, are more engaged at school and have better memories than children who don't participate. A study conducted at Northwestern University and published in Frontiers in Psychology, speaks to the role that music plays in shaping children's brains. Students who play instruments and who are active participants in the study and re-creation of music show the biggest benefits.
They process language and speech sounds more efficiently, and they tend to become better readers. They also have higher self-esteem as learning an instrument gives them the opportunity to listen to feedback, make adjustments and then see positive changes. This can make them feel more confident in the work that they are doing and helps them to learn how to deal with feedback or advice.
From a biological perspective, playing an instrument helps to develop their coordination and dexterity skills. The brain has to work quickly and efficiently in order to play. It has to continuously analyse the sounds and the neural pathways to the muscles are firing continuously. By having to concentrate on reading the music and then converting this into physical movement, children develop their hand-eye coordination and practical skills.
Children who study music also have the opportunity to be exposed to new cultures. Music reflects history and by exposing them to different genres such as jazz, baroque, blues and geographic genres, we are developing their appreciation for these differences. Through music they are able to learn about different instruments, sounds and traditions which helps to develop their overall understanding of the world.
Even more inspiring, children who study music from a young age are more likely to attend college.
But even beyond the hard, physical evidence that music education matters, is the way music makes children feel. There's an ongoing relationship between music and emotions, says BrainWorld Magazine. It's music that gets feet stomping and hands clapping. It's music that moves us to involve our reflexes, our visual imagery and our memory. Often one of our first memories is a sound or a song and this shows how ingrained music is in our minds.
Music helps us heal. That's why it plays such an important role in the treatment of certain conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, anxiety and depression. When brought into the classroom in engaging ways, it gives students an outlet to release stress and worry while calming and soothing them at the same time. Music evokes so many memories and emotions to the surface and it can be used in many positive ways to help improve our mood.
Music encourages self-expression and it is an outlet for creativity. Children may sometimes find it hard to get their point across but may find that they can express their feelings and emotion through their music. This gives them an outlet to reveal their emotions in a healthy and productive manner.
If you've ever spent valuable time weighing the pros and cons of music class at your child's school, now you can rest easy knowing that it really is a necessary part of any good, child-oriented curriculum, and it's benefiting students in every way it should. At OWIS we provide a range of opportunities for children to partake in music, whether this be within the classroom or as an extracurricular activity. We offer a variety of instrumental lessons and there are opportunities for students to demonstrate what they have learnt to their families during the year.