Should you sign your children up for music lessons? What are the pros and cons of placing young children and teens in lessons where they can learn to play an instrument or sing? Will after-school music classes interfere with a child’s regular school work?
All those questions are common ones for parents who ponder the possible advantages of early childhood music education.
It’s All About Memory
All the questions are valid, and parents need to know how instrument or voice classes will affect their child’s overall educational outcome. The answers, fortunately, are all good.
Not only will music education make the average child a better listener, but a few after-school hours each week can sharpen language skills, math competence and memory. In fact, a better memory is one of the key benefits of early childhood music education. Why?
Because memory is at the root of most every mental tool. Think about it: a better memory allows young brains to hold more information, more words and more mathematical concepts. Experts say that music education alters the way the brain works and the multiple ways it comprehends the world around it.
The ability to receive, hold and recall information is the general process used in every school subject. That’s why memory enhancement, aided by music education, is a win-win for students, parents and teachers.
Music education, especially when it begins before the age of seven, can literally super-charge any child’s academic journey by building:
- A more powerful memory
- Quicker neurological growth
- The capacity to learn native and foreign languages more efficiently
- A more comprehensive attention span
Here’s a closer look at some of the main benefits of early childhood music education:
Better Overall Memory Power
There’s no question about it. Music education helps foster better memory skills in people of all ages but particularly in young children. Research has long shown that studying music, either in a voice class or by learning to play an instrument, is an intelligence booster.
But newer research suggests that the key benefit is connected to raw memory power.
Kids who are enrolled in music lessons outside of school tend to do better in all their coursework because they simply develop a larger “working memory,” as scientists call it.
That means that in math, science, language arts and all their other academic pursuits, music learners have a built-in advantage.
Faster Brain Development
When kids take music classes and lessons after school, they’re learning much more than music. Their brains are actually developing faster and acquiring adult-level neural skills much sooner that it would without the classes.
Scientists call this transformation “auditory development,” and it plays an important part in getting the brain to respond to everything it hears. Without music education, the brain will still learn auditory skills but at a much slower pace. So, in addition to all its other benefits, studying music actually seems to “boost” brain development.
Memory Advantages for All Ages
When children begin learning music before the age of seven, they get an even bigger dose of neural development. That’s because the human brain is still building the vital neural pathways that will help it function throughout life.
By tossing music into the mix before age seven, you’re giving your children the single best advantage they can get. It’s sort of like having a head start in the race of life.
But even after the age of seven the brain continues to absorb music teaching in a way that enhances dozens of other skills, memory being the primary one.
Grade-school and high-school students, in fact, are able to acquire the building blocks of a strong memory because even after the neural processes are set, around age seven, the brain continues to mature until adulthood. That’s why teens who have no previous music education stand to gain a lot from guitar lessons, voice classes or group choir sessions.
Enhanced Ability to Learn Foreign Language
Most high schools require students to take at least two semesters of a foreign language. But, some students struggle with language courses even when they excel in other subjects. This is not the case for students who have a background in music.
A better memory, which is a by-product of any kind of music course, is a huge aid for pupils in any foreign language class. Learning a foreign language involves three crucial skills, all of which are supported and enhanced by music education:
- Accurate hearing
- Strong attention
Studies have shown that music education helps children the most because it impacts their working memory. Learning a new language, especially in the beginning stages, centers around acquiring fresh vocabulary. That’s where memory comes in.
Basic memorization skills, which music education bolsters, are a core competency for language learners of all ages. So if you want you child to do better in the Spanish, German or French classes, enroll them in music lessons when they’re young.
Stronger, More Precise Attention
Experts say that memory skills consist of several components: acquisition of information, storage of the data and retrieval of the data when it’s needed. The first step, acquisition, is closely connected to attention. When kids don’t pay attention to what a teacher says, how can they be expected to remember it? And when children skim their textbooks instead of reading them carefully, the memory doesn’t stand a chance because it never “acquires” the information to begin with.
Music education teaches children to listen and pay attention to whatever they hear. A Journal of Music Therapy study confirmed what researchers had long suspected: kids with a background in music education are better able to listen, even in noisy, chaotic environments.
What’s the Lesson for Parents and Teachers?
The evidence is in. The studies have been done and the conclusion is clear: early childhood music education (the earlier, the better) helps improve memory in kids. Whether your child is two, five, 10 or 16, there are plenty of solid reasons to enroll them in some kind of music class, whether choir, instrumental or individual voice courses.
One of the main things to remember is that your child need not have perfect pitch, a “natural gift” for music or any inborn capability for the pursuit of this highly beneficial learning technique. Study after study has demonstrated that any child can obtain huge benefits, primarily in terms of enhanced memory, from music education.
And because “memory” is essentially at the very core of all learning, taking a music class gives students an early boost in virtually every school subject.
Our entire team at Prodigies Music knows full well that children flourish when they learn about music. We make the process fun, challenging and interactive. That way, kids look forward to coming to their lessons, whether it’s once, twice or more times per week.
We offer a complete music curriculum for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens. If you want your child to thrive in school and in life, now is the time to give them the advantage of music education.