It is counterintuitive to add more studies to the schedule of an already busy child. Our natural response to seeing our child struggle is to find a way to help, not to add to the burden. If a child is struggling, why should we risk setting them up for failure in music lessons?
The answer is simple. Playing music has been discovered to have a direct and almost immediate effect on the brain of the student. That's right. Music lessons have been shown in a German study to have a significant impact on the way the brain functions after as little as five weeks!
What they found, when comparing a group of students taking music lessons with a control group that was not, was that students who had taken as few as ten music lessons over a five week period exhibited a significant ear to hand link.
So? What's the big deal? Life doesn't make much use of ear to hand connections unless you want to play an instrument by ear (I've always thought that provoked a strange mental picture; imagine the ears you would have to have to play the trombone!). The significance is two fold. First, it means that music lessons lead to brain development which ultimately means that music lessons have the effect of giving the individual that is taking the lessons improved brain function from which to draw in the rest of his or her life. Second, (and I saved the best for last) the ear to hand brain connection from music lessons is significant because researchers in Hong Kong took the study one step further and tested a group of students with music lessons and a group without music lessons for verbal memory and found that the group that was taking music lessons outscored their nonmusical peers by a significant margin.
It gets better still. The same groups of students were tested a year later, even after some of them had discontinued their music lessons, and found that they still outscored their nonmusical peers in verbal tests!
The moral to that story is get your child (or even yourself) into music lessons if you want your child to have every advantage possible in life, because even though these are only benefits that we know of for sure, there are bound to be far more yet to be discovered.
At the same time, many children who originally objected to music lessons discovered that they had a talent for music, and went on to practice on their own without having to be reminded. Still others found that by playing an instrument they could join the school band and go on trips and participate in marches and parades and football games. And others discovered they could improvise on their instruments, and so joined jazz groups and swing groups and many other types of combos and bands.
The bottom line is that music study enhanced their lives and their other studies rather than distracted from it. And that is a benefit too huge to be ignored.
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