Putting your child in piano lessons is a big investment. Parents understandably ask themselves: Is it worth it? Are these skills going to benefit my child in the long run? Sure, human beings have been making music for tens of thousands of years, so…it’s probably not a complete waste of time. But is it really worth putting all this time and money into my child’s music education?
Before you decide, here’s some food for thought:
MUSIC CHANGES YOUR BRAIN
The idea that passively listening to music can make you smarter has been generally debunked by the scientific community. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that actively participating in music has a significant, positive effect on brain development – and the younger you start, the better.
Scientists can actually see differences between the brains of people who received musical training before the age of 7, and those who haven’t. Researchers at Concordia University have observed that people who took music lessons as young children had stronger connections between the parts of their brain related to planning and carrying out movements. Tests proved that these people were able to perform better on tasks that required accurate timing. This makes sense, right? In music lessons, your child learns to listen, and to coordinate what they do with what they hear.
But what do accurate timing and precise hearing have to do with non-musical skills? Is all this really relevant to anything, besides than the ability to play the piano?
In fact, neuroscientists are discovering that it is. Scientists are discovering that the way our brains process music is closely related to the way our brains process language. Reading relies on our ability to understand the structures of spoken language – for example, we need to be able to hear where words begin and end, or how syllables relate to one another. It turns out that learning to hear the nuances of speech is important to learning how to read, and that musical training can improve reading ability.
Even your child’s ability to learn in class may benefit from piano lessons, research suggests. Musicians seem to have an edge when it comes to auditory attention and memory – which means that understanding and remembering what the teacher says in class may be a bit easier for a musically trained child. Researchers have found that musical skills even help us overcome the hearing difficulties we experience as we age.
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