Benefits of Piano Lessons for Children
July 21, 2014 No Comments
Music can have a powerful effect on us as human beings, but that effect can be especially powerful and transformative in young adults and children. Learning piano is something that takes time, memorization, and dedication; something not all young people or children may have, but taking piano lessons and practicing daily can home these skills and affect children’s performance in school and beyond in a positive way.
When a child or young adult plays a musical instrument, they develop essential brain functions that also enhance both academic and social skills. One Canadian study looking at groups of six-year-old students concluded that after just nine months of weekly training on the piano, students’ IQ rose nearly three points more than their untrained peers. When students learn to translate musical symbols into sound and learn to understand music, these skills transfer to other abilities because they share similar neuro-pathways. For this reason children who play music also excel academically, specifically in math and science, as practicing music also exercises parts of the brain used in spatial intelligence (the ability to think through a 3-D puzzle, for example). Other benefits to the brain include a nourishing process of learning overall (critical thinking skills, motor skills, attention spans, etc.), engagement of left and right brain functions, improvement of memory, and building and strengthening of connections between brain cells. Children and young adults also express greater ease when it comes to expressing emotion.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, approximately three to seven percent of school-age children have ADHD; while one in 20 U.S. children experience ADHD symptoms. Focusing in school is a task many children and young adults struggle with, but learning and playing the piano can help young people to stay focused and better achieve their goals. Learning anything new takes both patience and diligence, but this is especially true when learning an instrument like the piano which requires memorization and daily practice. With so many children moving to video games and smart phones for entertainment, some children may feel “left out” taking piano lessons in their spare time but taking music lessons, specifically piano lessons, can be fun though with new apps and programs that are free and engaging to children and young adults. While formal lessons from a professional should be considered, children can use apps and programs like games that are educational, engaging and entertaining, perfect for children suffering from ADHD or related disorders.
There’s a reason why a reported 75 percent of CEOs in Silicon Valley took music lessons as children. Music lessons help to preserve and develop a child’s natural creative ability, while also building self-confidence and self-esteem and courage to try new things. Research also reveals that trained musicians think differently than other people, using more effectively a creative technique called “divergent thinking” (the ability to come up with new solutions to open-ended questions), and using multiple parts of their brains, both sides and their frontal cortex, more than the average person. The key here is problem solving. When it comes to day-to-day creativity, those who are musically trained are more successful in problem solving academically and otherwise, making these individuals more confident in their abilities and giving them the ability to think deeper and more in-depth overall. On the other hand, non-musical people tend to favor certain areas of the brain, accessing less information from a smaller variety of regions.
If you are interested in getting your child or young adult involved in music, piano lessons are an ideal starting point because of the fundamental structure of the chords, scales, harmonic and rhythmic patterns, all laid out in a horizontal row. Piano also requires less coordination between both hands early on, unlike other instruments that require both to even make sound. Piano is also a great starting point for children of all ages. Typically, if a child is successful at piano, they have a greater chance of moving on to other instruments and experiencing similar success with a foundational understanding of music.
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