How Music Improves Children's Academic, Cognitive and Social Performance
Several studies show that structured music lessons can dramatically enhance brain structure, language skills, social skills, short-term memory and spatial reasoning in children.
Did you know that children who learn music perform better in academics and other fields? That’s right; brain games, riddles, and puzzles aren’t the only means to improve a child’s cognitive ability and academic performance. Most schools around the world have languages, literature, mathematics, science and social sciences as the base of their curriculum. Music lessons however are not as popular; as many academicians don’t consider music to be an integral part of education. Interestingly, the findings of not one, but several studies carried out in different countries could very well force academicians and policymakers to change their perception.
How do music lessons help children?
Learning music has a spillover effect on other areas of a child’s development – especially those concerning motor skills, memory, reasoning and hearing. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as music lessons involve listening to notes and remembering them. Moreover, music training also requires hand-eye coordination and paying attention for extended periods of time.
A number of studies have concluded that playing music for an hour a week can considerably alter the structure of the brain. Over time, the cognitive benefits that accrue due to music training – improved memory, concentration and reasoning – could translate into higher grades in academic studies.
Music and Language Skills
Music improves language skills in Children. “Kids who play instruments make faster sound-to-meaning connections because of the increased activity in the auditory centres of the brain,” says Nina Kraus, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Northwestern University. These sound-to-meaning connections, improve children’s ability to process, read, hear, memoriSe and effectively use words.
Music and Mathematics
Researchers believe that music rewires a child’s brain structure allowing to better understand various mathematical concepts. Learning rhythm, scales, and beats help children understand concepts like counting, fractions, and divisions. When they repeatedly listen to melodies and chords they gain the ability to recognise patterns.
Music and Spatial Thinking
In a study, two groups of 5-year olds were asked to put together puzzle pieces. The participants who took keyboard lessons were faster at assembling the pieces than the non-music group. It seems music learners are better at spatial thinking (i.e.) the ability to visualize, understand, and find meaning in shapes, sizes, and direction of objects, phenomena, and processes. It turns out, spatial reasoning is essential for understanding and solving complex problems in mathematics.
Math and Discipline
In this day and age of instant gratification, it’s our responsibility to teach our children the importance of discipline and patience. In a way, through music children realize there’s no easy path to success. Music has a fairly steep learning curve; students have to work hard for weeks or in some cases, months to get the first tune right. As part of a music group, children learn attention, focus, and patience. They learn to stay attentive and focused while others play and wait for their turn. These skills come handy when learning a new language or subject in class.
Music and Social Skills
Through music children learn about the importance of teamwork. By interacting and communicating with their peers, they gain the ability to harmoniously work with each other. In music classes, students are often made to practice as part of a group. This experience teaches children to collaborate with others in order to achieve a common goal.
It has become fairly clear that music as an educational tool has a disproportionately positive effect on children’s academic performance and their future. It’s our duty to ensure our children have the best tools to succeed in life. We must urge educators to include music in school curriculums or find creative ways to make music a daily part of our children’s life.