Why Younger Is Better When Learning To Play Music

You see them everywhere these days – on Youtube, on TV, in movies and in local talent competitions and variety shows.

children learning music

Children as young as 3 years old skilfully playing acoustic guitars as if they’ve been doing it for decades, or hitting the drums like real pros, and even playing with famous rock stars and keeping up with every chord. These musical prodigies keep audiences in awe, and at the same time get us thinking, “why oh why did I ever quit playing guitar?” or “I should have learned to play piano as a kid.”

But as these prodigies grow up and become seemingly “ordinary” musicians people begin to change their original line of thinking. They think instead that those children’s forays into music were but a passing, fascinating phase and no longer view those early musical skills as particularly valuable because once grown up, these children are no longer unique prodigies but typical musicians trying to make it big like millions that have gone before them.

But according to various studies, learning to play music at a young age has effects and benefits that last far longer than the popularity of a Youtube video – ones that last even an entire lifetime.

Benefits that Play on Long after the Music Fades

According to several recent studies, the positive effects of learning to read music or playing a musical instrument at a very young age last much, much longer even after a child has stopped learning and playing music. These effects do not just involve stimulating creativity and expressiveness in a child as what most would usually assume, but goes right through to elevated mental capabilities.

Several studies show that learning to play music at a young age actually boosts a child’s cognitive skills. Music somehow stimulates parts of the brain involved in reading comprehension, spelling, Mathematics and emotional development. It also improves a child’s memory and learning ability.

One study by a group of researchers at Northwestern University shows that the brain waves of college students who had musical training as children were more responsive to complex sounds. Their brains could better discern vital elements in music and sounds even though their musical training stopped a long time ago. Another study shows that those who continued to play music as adults experienced the same decline in hearing in their old age as those without musical training, but their brain functions and central auditory processing skills were better preserved.

Other benefits of teaching children to play music at a young age include:

  • Concentration. Children who learn to play musical instruments learn to develop concentration early on in order to master playing their instrument. This ability to concentrate often crosses over to other activities, such as doing school work, and last even beyond their school years.

  • Self-confidence. Learning to play an instrument, becoming good at it and gaining the praise and respect of elders and peers develops self-confidence in a child.

  • Coordination. Musical instruments need precise movements and hand-eye coordination in order to produce the best quality of sound. In learning to play these instruments, children develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

  • Patience & Perseverance. In order to hone their skills children need to be patient with playing their instruments. They must not quit but keep on trying even if it seems difficult. In this process children learn to work hard and persevere in order to achieve the level of proficiency they desire in playing their instrument. The patience and perseverance they develop then help them later in life when they are faced with other difficult challenges.

  • Relaxation. Certain types of music have long been known to have relaxing effects on people, and this is no different when it comes to children playing musical instruments.

  • Social Skills. Those children who learn to play instruments with a band or orchestra learn early on important life lessons such as working together to achieve a goal, the importance of listening to one another and how to relate amicably with others. It may also teach them about leadership and compromise.

  • Discipline. In order to improve in playing music, children must not only do well in music classes or training, they must also devote a lot of time practicing on their own. This requires great discipline.

  • Excellence. Learning to play instruments teaches children not just to do things but to do things well; not just to pass a requirement but to do things to the best of their ability.

  • Creativity & Expression. Since music is an art form and outlet for self-expression, it is only natural for children to express their creativity and even their emotions through playing music. And through this expression kids achieve emotional stability and sheer, simple pleasure.

Learning to play musical instruments is truly rewarding for children, and not just in their young age but throughout their life. In order to reap these many benefits parents must make sure to give their children a good start with the right music lessons or program.

Where to Begin

Fortunately for parents there are now a slew of music shops that can be found everywhere, some of them catering to children as young as 3 years old. Big Music is a piano shop that not only sells all kinds of musical instruments and has kids’ party venues but also offers various types of music lessons for children depending on their individual skill level. They even have a holiday program and a junior band program that lets kids perform in front of a live audience as a culminating activity. This gives children not only the many benefits previously stated, but also exposes them to the real world of performing.

But parents should take care not to push children into playing music just for its benefits. More important than all the benefits combined is the love for music. Parents and elders must first teach kids to love music. Being proficient in playing a musical instrument without really loving music is a travesty; music is an art, it should first and foremost be enjoyed. And when a child loves music, there’s no need to force practices or performing, and there’s no limit to what the child can achieve musically.

Here's some good advice on what to look for in a guitar if you're getting one for a child.

About the Author:

Debra Wright blogs about a plethora of topics including Piano Shops and other fields.  Debra considers Big Music as one of the leaders in Online Music Stores.

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