I frequently receive calls from parents interested in music lessons for their child, but when they find out what it will cost, I usually hear something like, “Let me think about it.” That, more often than not, equates to ‘I’m not willing to pay that much just for music lessons,’ and I typically never hear back. Instead, a lot of parents opt for sports over music.
Yes, music lessons are an extra expense, but consider these facts about the benefits of music and decide whether that expense is worth it in the long run.
Sure, sports provide opportunities for improving physical skills, teamwork and discipline, but you may be surprised to know that learning instruments like the piano or drums also develops physical coordination. In fact, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination and Motor Skills, students who can perform complex musical rhythms are more likely to make more precise and accurate corrections in many physical and academic situations. Additionally, like sports, group music classes develop not only social skills, but encourage cooperation, communication and teamwork.
Music also plays a significant role in students’ general academic success. Music instruction has been linked to significant improvement in reading, verbal skills, math, spatial skills and verbal memory, and on the 2012 SAT, students who were participating in music scored an average of 31 points in reading, 23 points in math and 31 points in writing above average. Studying music develops creative and critical thinking skills required in today’s world. One study found that children who took music lessons for as little as one year had an intelligence increase up to 2.5 IQ points.
Besides numerous academic reasons to include music in a child’s education, it has a myriad of social and personal benefits as well. Participating in music teaches children how to better express their feelings and emotions. It also contributes to an elevated sense of self confidence, and children who study music tend to be more cooperative with fewer discipline problems. Students who participate in music also have the lowest levels of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use among any group in society.
Think that music lessons are just for kids? Think again. Playing music is one of the few activities which use both hemispheres of the brain at one time. Playing an instrument “requires a wide array of brain regions and cognitive functions to work together simultaneously, in both right and left hemispheres of the brain.” A study of the impact of piano instruction of adults age 60 to 85 conducted at the University of South Florida showed that after six months of instruction, those who received piano lessons demonstrated more significant gains in memory, verbal fluency, the speed at which they processed information, ability to plan, as well as other cognitive functions.
All things considered, there is no down-side to learning music and playing a musical instrument. There's little chance of injury, and a great deal of opportunity to develop brain activity and stave off dementia. The benefits of studying music can last a lifetime. So, how could music not be worth the expense?