Twelve Benefits of Music Learning
Waltons New School of Music
In addition to the joy and satisfaction of being able to play an instrument or sing, learning music benefits young people in a number of important ways. Here are twelve.
❶ Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning.
Brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.
❷ There is a causal link between music and spatial intelligence.
Spatial intelligence is the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things. This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualise various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced maths problems to being able to pack a school bag with everything that will be needed for the day.
❸ Students of the arts learn to think creatively.
Creative thinking allows us to solve problems by imagining unusual solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.
❹ Students who study the arts are more successful on standardised tests.
A number of recent studies have demonstrated this – as well as the fact that music and arts students also consistently achieve higher marks in secondary school.
❺ Music study provides children with a better understanding of other cultures.
Music has no borders, and whatever the differences in language, religion or ethnicity, music from other cultures can be appreciated and enjoyed – allowing young people to be more empathetic towards the people of these cultures.
❻ Students of music learn good craftsmanship.
Two important lessons of music study are how all the details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These lessons, when applied to a student’s own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.
❼ In music, a mistake is a mistake.
An instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.
❽ Music study enhances teamwork skills and self-discipline.
In order for any ensemble – orchestra, choir, chamber group, jazz ensemble, rock band – to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals and practising.
❾ Music provides a means of self-expression.
Everyone needs to be in touch at some point with his/her ‘core’, with what he/she is and feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.
❿ Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace.
It focuses on ‘doing’, as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.
⓫ Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks.
A little anxiety (and learning to work with it) is a good thing, since anxiety is something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.
⓬ Music education exposes young people to the incomparable.
While the eleven earlier reasons are important, music and arts education is also a worthy end in itself.