Beyond the enjoyment, the money you earn if you make it big, improved hand eye coordination, physical stimulation, and the other noted benefits of music training, perhaps the greatest positive effect happens on the brain. It may not be the most common reason for taking music lessons, but improved brain function should well motivate us all – young and old - to enroll for music lessons.
Research has proven there is a link between music training and cognitive development. It’s also been established that children who take music lessons before they turn nine gain the most benefit. And these benefits will stay with them as they grow, deep into adulthood, even if they never play a musical instrument again.
Here is a list of the top 10 reasons why everyone should be playing a musical instrument:
1. Music Will Improve Your Child’s Concentration Skills
Children have a very short attention span. They are busy little bodies who struggle to concentrate on one task at a time.
However, music training can be so engrossing, and it demands so much concentration, that children who take music lessons will quickly discover they can’t play and do other things at the same time.
The benefits of sending your child to music lessons will have immediate as well as long term advantages.
2. Music Makes You Think Creatively
Music is a creative subject. Yes, there is a lot of technical training involved but as soon as you can hold and play the instrument properly, you should start expressing yourself. And that demands some artistic ability.
Those born without the skill have to think creatively and improvise to make up chords that will produce entertaining music.
However, once you start to work it, you will be amazed by the sweet melodies your brain can conjure up. If you never challenge this part of your brain, you will remain in timid mode, and grow even less creative.
3. Music is Math
When you think of it, music and mathematics are not that far apart. In fact, there isn't a more fun way for a child to learn multiplication tables and other math skills. Playing any musical instrument involves some form of counting, usually in multiples. Before long, children who take music lessons will have to start counting beats to keep track with rhythm.
As they have to mind their strokes and count at the same time, it forces them to concentrate harder. Those who play demanding wind instruments, where they have to use most of their fingers and mouth at the same time, should see even greater benefits.
4. Music Training Sets Goals
Playing an instrument is an aquired skill, with levels that build with further training and practice. Very rarely will someone start taking music lessons without a goal in mind. Even the younger learners will have some kind of goal...you just have to know how to ask them. They will likely tell you they want to play like so and so...
For the older learners, the goal will be a little smarter - to pass my intermediate music education exam within one year – or a variation of that. There is little sense in spending money and time for something you have no clear goal. Even when one starts off without a specific goal, they will have one before long.
5. Music Lessons Breed Discipline
Learning to play a musical instrument takes considerable effort. Not only are you setting aside time from your usual routine, giving up other interests, to go for lessons, you must also invest yet more time in home practice sessions. That is a lot of time for young children to spend on a non-play activity.
The benefit is that children learn how to prioritize from a very young age. They will learn that some things are more important than others. That, to get the most coveted skills, you have to maintain a higher level of discipline. This will serve them well as they grow.
Discipline breeds better qualifty of life
There are even greater benefits for those who keep playing after the initial training period. Studies have shown those who train for more than ten years benefit the most.
You may have been late to the party, but as long as you have the discipline to persist with your music training, you should experience a notable improvement in your mental health, and general quality of life.
6. Music Training Relieves Stress
There's no argument that listening to music encourages feelings of relaxation, which in turn lowers stress. Even better is learning and playing music for a consistent period of time. The training might require some effort on your part, but engaging with music on this level will help to relieve stress as you are training your body and mind in an age old discipline...and a proven and well known stress reliever.
7. Music Training Gives A Feeling of Achievement
Who doesn’t want to succeed at something? There is a kind of thrill you only get from achieving something you really worked hard at. Even if it is only the intermediate certificate, it is something to tick off as a milestone. The regular practice sessions will give you a healthy routine combined with a sense of achievement.
8. Music Training Will Build Your Confidence
Music is an expressive art. You play for your own and others enjoyment. Knowing that there is likely to be other people listening to your music at some point will encourage you to always give it your best shot.
This is great if you have struggled with low self-esteem.
Low self-esteem seldom reflects your lack of ability in something. Instead, it means you are not confident in your abilities. With music training you have little choice than to just play and not hold anything back. As you learn and enjoy yourself more, you develop greater trust in your own talents, respect yourself more, and grow more confident in other areas of your life.
9. Boosts Your Mental Stamina
You can take music lessons, and draw dividends, at any age. While it is accepted we will grow physically wearier as we age, with musical training you can at least ensure your mental stamina does not weaken at the same pace.
Taking music lessons will help you process sounds and pronounce words better, and arrange more coherent thoughts. These are important human abilities that tend to decline as you age and which are responsible for much of the social isolation that aged people suffer.
10. Taking Music Lessons Improves Your Auditory Memory
Even well into your 70s and 80s, taking music lessons will boost your auditory memory and improve your speech fluency and organizational skills. All the mental demands of melody construction, muscle memory training, persistent practice, and music reading will pay off in spades, whatever age you take up music lessons. So, it is never too late to take those musical lessons.
A Lifetime Of Benefits
It has long been thought that music has farther reaching benefits than just firing up parties. But now several studies have shown music training is probably the healthiest, non-clinical way to maintain good mental health. Never mind the many other benefits we have always known.
So, why not enroll yourself for some piano or guitar lessons. Or any instrument for that matter. Enroll your children too if you are a parent. The benefits will show almost immediately.
About the Author: Helen Baker
I am a freelance teacher and writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I spent some time teaching English in Paris and, thereafter, returned to Ann Arbor where I was involved both in the media and academics. Currently I am a stay at home mom, working as a freelance writer and teacher. I love all my guitars and I also have an affinity towards old grand pianos. I love singing, traveling, reading, writing, watching films and spending quality time with my husband.