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How Learning to Play Music Helps Children Develop Mentally

Joined: 1/23/2013
Posts: 1

'Cello Beginner by Steve Snodgrass, on Flickr
The LA Times recently reported a new study that indicates formal musical training stimulates brain development in children. The study showed that even after years of not practicing their musical instrument, adults who had once taken music lessons showed higher brain response to sounds than those with no musical training. How exactly does musical training benefit the brain? Consider the following top 10 benefits:

1. Sharpens language development
Researchers have found that learning to play a musical instrument increases the brain's sensitivity to speech sounds. Listening skills are constantly in use while playing a musical instrument. Young musicians can identify minute changes in the human voice and hear speech even in a noisy environment. Scientists with the American Association for the Advancement of Science have concluded that musical ability enhances the way the nervous system interprets sound.

2. Improves memory function
According to another study, children who play musical instruments improve their spatial-temporal skills by 34 percent! This is because the part of our brain that processes music is also involved in memory function. The benefits are so widely documented that scientists now recommend the use of music as part of neuropsychological therapy in adults. Researchers are discovering that learning an instrument can also help patients recover from memory loss resulting from brain injuries.

3. Increases aptitude for math
A Brown University study found that musical training improved the math skills of first and second grade students. The study followed students for seven months, and found that children receiving musical training were far ahead of their counterparts in their math performance. The idea is that counting notes and rhythms in music theory sharpens the part of the brain that controls mathematical function.

4. Improves reading and comprehension skills
Musicians are constantly reading and processing what they see on the page. For example, piano players are both identifying notes and translating them into finger positions, all while reading rhythms and beats. This process sharpens the brain, equipping the musician for reading and processing words on a page in the same manner.

5. Enhances coordination
Hand-eye coordination is necessary for playing any musical instrument. When the eyes read the notes on a page, the brain must automatically interpret the note and stimulate a motor response.

6. Develops reasoning ability
Playing music requires identifying a series of notes and also looking ahead to see what is coming up. This process enhances the ability to think ahead, translating into increased reasoning ability in the real world. Children are then able to quickly recognize images, process their relationship to other objects and detect patterns.

7. Teaches endurance
Playing a musical instrument takes a lot of time and effort, enhancing a child's development of patience and perseverance. Practicing and learning a difficult piece demonstrates that hard work pays off, which is important for children to learn first-hand.

8. Cultivates organization skills
Musicians learn to organize their time, plan ahead and keep a track of their progress. Instructors help children develop a sense of planning and organization while doing the above. As they work on a piece with a specific goal in mind, they develop the skills associated with time and project management.

9. Boosts self confidence
Learning to play a musical instrument gives a child a sense of achievement and pride! As a child becomes more confident in their abilities, their emotional development is enhanced.

10. Promotes social skills
Children who play musical instruments often display increased social skills. This may be partly due to increased self-confidence. However, it also gives them a sense of belonging to a group. Even if a child does not join a band, they will most likely form friendships with other musically-inclined children. Musical activities are perfect opportunities for forming new friendships and developing the ability to adapt to new social environments.

Although it's never too late to get your child started with music lessons, the greatest opportunity for increased cognitive development is starting as early as possible. The benefits listed above prove that music can help your child develop key skills that will carry on throughout all of his or her life.

Amanda Williams is a blog writer for Since 2006, TakeLessons has provided affordable, hassle-free music lessons to students of all ages. With certified instructors in cities nationwide, students can learn to play the piano, guitar, drums and more.
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