With more and more evidence linking playing a musical instrument to improved brain power and higher academic achievements, there’s really never been a better time for your child to take up a new hobby. In fact, science has shown how learning to play an instrument can change brain structure and development for the better, especially for those who start practicing from a young age. Benefits include improved long-term memory, sharper focus, increased blood flow as well as reduced stress levels. Here’s 10 ways learning to play an instrument can strengthen your child’s brain.
1. Improved Memory
Researchers have found that learning to play a musical instrument teaches a child how to create, store and retrieve memories in more effective ways. It also makes kids use both sides of their brain, which strengthens memory power and enhances a child’s verbal memory and spatial reasoning. This video from TED-ED explains how playing an instrument is a total workout for the brain.
2. Better Multi-Tasking Skills
Playing music forces children to process multiple senses at once, which helps to improve their ability to multitask - a very useful skill that will stay with kids throughout their whole life!
3. Reduced Stress and Anxiety
A recent study found that musical training can help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their stress and anxiety by bulking up the gray matter in the brain cortex.
4. Increased Blood Flow
Playing an instrument has been found to lead to an increased blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain, as well as the entire body, strengthening it (increased blood flow brings oxygen to the entire body) which can aid it in faster recovery from illness, pain, and more! Just like exercising for 30 minutes a day can increase blood flow, spending some time learning a few notes on the piano or guitar can give your child’s body the fuel it needs to thrive.
5. Improved Executive Functioning Skills
Musical training is a wonderful way to help improve your child’s executive functioning skills. In fact, a study conducted in Boston Children’s Hospital, found a biological link between early musical training and improved executive functioning. By regularly practicing something difficult like how to play an instrument, skills such as processing and retaining information, making good decisions, problem solving and time management will automatically get better. Remember, this works for adults as well as children!
6. Better Coordination
Kids that play an instrument often have better hand-eye coordination over those who do not. That’s because playing music requires the brain to work very quickly, especially when ‘reading’ music as the brain has to convert the notes read into the physical motion of actually playing the instrument. All very complicated when you think about it, but fascinating how amazing our brains are!
7.Improved Reading and Comprehension Skills
Being able to read and play music often helps children improve their reading and comprehension skills, which can also hugely benefit their academic abilities. That’s because learning and playing music requires constant reading, understanding and interpretation. Not only will your child need to be able to identify a note on the page and recognise which note to play on their instrument, they’ll also need to know how long to hold it, what finger to use and how loudly to play it, how the note should be played and whether it’s connected to the next note.
8. Better Listening Skills
It’s not unusual for kids to become much better listeners when they can play a musical instrument. This is because kids have to listen carefully to instructions from their teacher as well as listen for rhythm, pitch and speed.
9. Increased Discipline
Learning to play an instrument isn’t a skill your child can master overnight. In fact, playing one and being able to do it well will require hours of time, lots of dedication and plenty of discipline. It’s a wonderful way for kids to learn how to discipline themselves and understand that in order to improve they will need to be patient and practice regularly.
10. Improved Maths
Even though playing an instrument may seem like a more creative hobby, music and maths are actually more connected than you may think. Being able to understand the beat, rhythm and scales, children are learning how to divide, create fractions and recognise patterns without realising it.