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7 Ways Music Lessons Help Kids Excel

Looking to avoid summer brain drain? A music-loving mom shares her personal research into 7 impressive benefits associated with music lessons. Drumroll, please!

By Katie Femia

One, two, three, four … With all of the counting and time signatures, it makes sense that learning a musical instrument can help strengthen a child’s ability to do mathematics and problem-solve. Years of research have borne that out. But what about socially? Emotionally? Physically? Personally? It turns out that music lessons can be an effective way to help children grow in all of these areas, too.

My own daughter began playing the piano at the age of nine. It was something she had asked us to sign her up for after she received a keyboard for Christmas the year prior. She was at the age where we expected more responsibility from her, and we were also looking for an effective way for her to channel her feelings. Music lessons have helped her in both of those areas. Being able to use her hands to create something beautiful is a therapeutic experience for her. Working with her instructor and practicing at home means she has developed more discipline and motivation to excel. As her lessons continue I am seeing growth in other areas of her life as well.

Here’s a medley of the amazing benefits that can come when children take up an instrument.

1. Improved Memory

Whether your child is memorizing the alphabet, multiplication tables, or Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, they will need to be able to focus on the information and store it in a retrievable manner. Music reinforces memory in the sense that it requires the child to memorize notes along with hand/mouth movement, turning the information into a tune. Using this part of the brain often to store and recite information is important, and music lessons continue to put memorization skills into practice.

2. Stress Relief or Prevention

Artforms are a wonderful way for children to express themselves while relieving tension at the same time, and music is no exception. The hands-on experience, the practice of manipulating the instruments, and the sound of the music that is created can all help put children at ease–especially after a long day at school.My child’s music school even has a school outreach program where kids with special needs are given musical instruments to play as a form of therapy.

3. Better Focus

Traditional classroom learning typically involves long periods of sitting still and concentrating, which can be a challenge for children. Music lessons can help children improve their focus, as their concentration and attention to detail is important when learning a tune. Improved attention leads to mastery of the tune and progress on to the next one. The positive feelings that result from this accomplishment strengthen their desire and ability to focus on goals related to the classroom.

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4. Fine Motor Skill Development

Fine motor skills–for example, tasks that are done with the fingers–typically require hand and eye coordination. Learning to play a musical instrument can help strengthen a child’s fine motor skills, which can come in handy in the classroom when the child writes (in print or cursive), paints, cuts, measures, glues, and so on.

5. Enhanced Self-Esteem

When a child becomes familiar with playing a musical instrument, they can feel a great sense of pride in their accomplishment. As they realize that they can entertain others and even evoke emotions through their performances, their confidence may grow even more. Every child wants to feel like they are good at or successful at something, and music lessons give them the chance to do that … and then treat others with their talent. The resulting self-esteem follows that child throughout their school day and throughout their life.

6. Lessons in Accountability

My daughter’s piano lessons are an intense 30 minutes in length, so it is important she is ready with her music sheets, notebook, and a sharpened pencil in hand when the lesson begins. She knows that stopping to find any of these items during the lesson would take away from valuable class time. The “homework” assigned by music instructors can also help create accountability in kids. At home, kids learn to make decisions on how to allocate their time to prepare for the next lesson. Children who take music lessons can carry this skill of accountability over to their classroom life, where deadlines for homework and classwork need to be met.

7. A Sense of Responsibility

Whether you decide to rent or own your child’s instrument, you will find it does not come cheap. Caring for the instrument properly is essential to protect your investment. Music lessons teach your child to be responsible for cleaning, caring for, and storing their instrument properly. The habits kids learn in music lessons can translate into increased responsibility for their school supplies, homework, and even their actions.

Consider music as a summer enrichment activity which can prepare your child to succeed in the classroom when the next school year rolls around. There are options for every budget and level of experience, so do some exploring and what might interest your child! Find summer music camps near you at ActivityHero.

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Rock Music Lessons: Surprising Ways They Pay Off

Believe it or not, rock music lessons offer some perks you might not find with other instruments. And kids who participate can do more than rattle your windows. Here, some experts share a few surprising reasons why it’s good for kids to rock out.

By Kathy Teel and Heather Shade

Why Rock Music Lessons Are Great for Kids

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when parents hear the words “rock band”? Most likely, lots of noise coming from your garage on the weekends. You might wonder, “Wouldn’t it be better for my child to focus on something that has a little more grace than the electric guitar or a drum set? Violin, perhaps?” It would certainly be more peaceful.

But what works for one kid doesn’t always work for another. While one may lean more toward a cello or piano, another may prefer the sounds that come from a bass guitar.

And here’s the good news: The experts we interviewed for this article say that’s okay! It may come as a shock to a lot of parents, but there are many similarities between the benefits of learning to play rock music and learning to play classical music. And there’s at least one surprising perk that you may not have previously imagined.

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From practical, everyday skills….

Cheri Norton is general manager of Hoover Music Company in Springfield, Missouri, which provides music lessons for many different instruments and styles of music, from electric guitar and drum kit to strings and brass. “Rock lessons,” she says, “like other music lessons, help develop skills of responsibility, commitment, critical thinking, and more.”

As with any other type of music lessons, what your child gets out of the activity depends largely upon what’s required of them — and what their teacher brings to the table. “It completely depends on the content of the lessons, the instructor, and the amount of practice a student puts in throughout the week outside of the lesson,” says Norton. That’s why, when interviewing different music instructors for your child, it’s important to find out their policies on practice, the types of skills they highlight, and what their goals are for the students they teach.This is true whether you decide to enroll your child in private lessons on the bass guitar or the piccolo.

Mike Winchel, guitarist since 2012 for the hard rock/heavy metal band Last Contact, agrees. Winchel has been playing the guitar for the last 16 years. One of the first things kids learn in rock music lessons, says Winchel: There are no shortcuts to success. “A lot of kids want to learn how to play their favorite songs before learning the basics,” he says. Music instructors, however, know that’s not the road to success in any type of music. “So you have to learn patience.”

“Laying a musical foundation is hard work, and it takes practice,” Norton adds. “There is no fast track to rocking out on the guitar and being successful in music. Although playing music is absolutely fun, the fun is a reward for all of the work.”

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To previously unappreciated musical territories…

Winchel also brings up a point that many parents may not have considered: By taking rock-style lessons, kids can begin to explore previously unappreciated musical territories.

“Rock bands of every genre have their roots in blues and jazz, which are rooted in both folk and classical music,” he says. “The more kids learn about playing rock music, they more they learn about other styles. Then they end up expanding their taste and appreciation, as well as their skills.”

In fact, kids who would normally be resistant to listening to or learning about other types of music may find that rock music lessons open the door to a love of different styles later in life. What’s more, adds Winchel, learning classical instrumentation, country chords, blues scales, jazz drums, bass funk, etc., “will only make rock music easier to learn. So your budding musician will be proficient not only in rock ’n’ roll, but in other genres as well.”

Learning to play rock music can also open doors to many other activities, besides being in a rock band, Winchel says. “If you can play guitar, you can translate those skills to orchestra,” he explains. Likewise, kids who learn drum set can find a role on the bass drum, timpani, snare, or drum set in a concert band, jazz band, or marching band. “And kids can use the dedication, practice, and patience in every aspect of their adult life,” Winchel says “Being able to struggle, learn, grow, and still express what’s inside you is what being in a rock band is about.”

But in the end, it’s all about the music.

While there may be distinct differences between the rock-band world of wailing guitar riffs and the orchestra world of soaring violin solos, it’s safe to say that both require discipline — a skill that offers lifelong benefits to every child.

As parents, one of the most important things we teach our children is about the rewards of persistence. “With consistency and hard work,” Norton says encouragingly, “their dreams can become more than just dreams. They can be reality.”

Enroll Your Child in Music Lessons: It’s as Easy as One, Two, Three …

Ready to turn the garage (or basement) into your kids’ all-new rock band practice room? First, find local schedules for music lessons for your child by visiting ActivityHero.