Benefits of Music Education
By Espie Estrella, About.com Guide
Learning to play a musical instrument offers a lot of benefits. I personally believe that if there’s one thing you should learn in your lifetime, it’ s how to play an instrument. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Playing A Musical Instrument Makes You Smarter
Many studies have been conducted on the effects of music to the brain. Scientists say that children who are exposed to music, or those who play an instrument, do better in school than those who don’t. Recent research suggests exposure to music may benefit a child’s reading age, IQ and the development of certain parts of the brain. Adults can benefit from learning to play an instrument too because it helps the mind to be alert and remain active eventually helping to sharpen the memory.
2. It Teaches Discipline
Learning to play an instrument is like learning to speak another language and it can be challenging at times. One of the qualities musicians possess is discipline. You have to be disciplined in order to master playing your instrument. You have to set time each day to practice, practice and practice some more.
3. Playing A Musical Instrument Relieves Stress
We all have days when we are so stressed out and we just want to take a break from it all. Have you ever noticed that when you hear soft, soothing music you feel more relaxed? Playing an instrument can do that and more, especially if you’re the one playing. Music is one of life’s simple joys; it helps calm the mind.
4. Sense of Achievement
If you’re a beginner learning to play your first piece, it can be frustrating. But once you’ve mastered it, the satisfaction you’ll feel is priceless. Never mind if it’s just a simple piece, believe me you’ll never forget the first piece you’ve mastered. You are one more step closer to achieving your goal and that is certainly something to be proud of.
5. Playing A Musical Instrument is Fun
Sure it can be a lot of hard work but there is no denying playing an instrument is fun. Once you get better at it, opportunities will arise for you to share your newly learned skill with your family and friends. Who knows, you may also consider playing professionally in the future. Playing a musical instrument opens up a lot of good possibilities that will surely enrich your life.
Music lessons give kids a small IQ advantage
Researchers have debunked the much-publicized idea, known as the Mozart effect, that listening to classical music improves children’s ability to reason about spatial relations and other nonverbal tasks. Learning to play a musical instrument or to sing, however, may indeed give youngsters an intellectual edge over their peers, a new study suggests.
Six-year-olds who took weekly piano or singing lessons throughout the school year exhibited an average IQ increase of 7.0 points, says psychologist E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Other 6-year-olds who either took weekly drama lessons or received no extracurricular lessons displayed an average IQ rise of 4.3 points, Schellenberg reports in the August Psychological Science.
The small, but statistically significant IQ advantage for music students became apparent from standardized intelligence tests administered at the start and end of first grade. The apparent benefit of the musical training showed up on the test’s verbal and nonverbal sections.
For his study, Schellenberg tracked 132 first graders, who were randomly assigned to one of the four groups. Teachers at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music provided the free piano, singing, or drama lessons. Extracurricular activities such as chess lessons or science programs, in which none of the 132 students was involved, may also nudge IQ upward, Schellenberg theorizes.
The children’s scores on a standard academic achievement test further reflected a musically inspired advantage.
“Music lessons involve experiences that could have a positive effect on cognition, particularly during childhood, when brain development is … sensitive to environmental influence,” Schellenberg says. For instance, musical training requires kids to pay attention for long periods, to read notation, to memorize extended passages, and to master fine-motor skills.
A different benefit emerged for the kids given drama lessons. According to parents’ ratings, those children improved their social skills by the end of first grade, whereas the rest showed no such changes.
The additional IQ boost reported for children who took music lessons is so small that it probably wouldn’t yield any dramatic upgrades in their school performance, remarks psychologist Ellen Winner of Boston College.
“We cannot say from this study what aspects of music education led to this modest improvement in IQ,” she adds. Further investigations will be required to explore the influence on intelligence of specific facets of music training. Winner also notes that the IQ disparities Schellenberg measured could derive from differences in how well the music teachers and drama teachers inspired their students to learn.
Winner and neurologist Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard Medical School in Boston are looking to resolve some of these issues in an ongoing long-term study that’s tracking the brains and intellectual development of children as they learn to play musical instruments.
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