Does your grandchild play a musical instrument? If you answered yes, then you’ve no doubt seen the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument. If your grandchild doesn’t yet play an instrument, it’s never too late or too early to introduce the idea of learning to play an instrument.
I’ve seen the benefits in my own two granddaughters who have been taking piano lessons for almost six years. The 14-year old also plays the violin and performs with a youth symphony orchestra. She enjoys learning new instruments and is teaching herself to play the flute. The 10-year old is learning to play the ukulele.
For me, one of the greatest joys in life is to sit beside my granddaughters and watch them practice the piano. I am awed by their ability to play two different rhythms with each hand because I know how hard it is. I took lessons as a child and now regret that I gave up after a couple of years. I am envious of their mastery of the keyboard and admire their discipline to practice 40 minutes every day. I give my daughter and son-in-law credit for enforcing their daily practice schedule.
Both girls phone us 3 or 4 times a week to practice their music while we listen. Sometimes they call while I’m preparing dinner and their music brings me such pleasure as I stand in the kitchen listening to “Für Elise” or “Moonlight Nocturne.” Whenever they call, my husband and I are always ready to listen and offer words of encouragement about their progress. We know these wonderful calls won’t last forever and we feel blessed to witness their progress as they master many different pieces of music.
Benefits of Learning a Musical Instrument
Science has shown that when children learn to play music, the parts of their brain that control motor skills, hearing, storing audio information, and memory, actually grow and become more active. Here are more of the many benefits of learning to play a musical instrument:
- Increases memory skills. Learning an instrument teaches a child how to create, store and retrieve memories more effectively.
- Teaches perseverance and creates a sense of achievement. Learning to play an instrument takes a lot of time, patience and practice. As a child reaches her goals, she will feel a sense of achievement and pride.
- Improves coordination. Playing an instrument requires the brain to work at advanced speeds. Reading music is converted in the brain to the physical motion of playing the instrument. Those who play instruments have improved hand-eye coordination.
- Improves math skills. By understanding beat, rhythm and scales, children are learning how to divide, create fractions and recognize patterns.
- Improves reading and comprehension skills. Learning and playing music requires constant reading and understanding. Children need to identify a note on the page and recognize which note (pitch) to play on their instrument, how long to hold it, what finger to use and how loudly to play it.
- Creates responsibility. Maintenance and care are important in keeping an instrument in working condition. Children must also learn to make time to practice and remember music rehearsals and performances.
- Exposes children to cultural history. Music itself is history, and each piece usually has its own background and storyline that can further appreciation of other cultures.
- Sharpens concentration and listening skills. Playing music requires concentration on pitch, rhythm, note duration and quality of sound.
- Teaches discipline. Practicing often and working on the hard parts of music and not just the easy parts requires discipline.
- Promotes happiness in the child’s life and for those around them. It’s not only fun for a child to play music he enjoys, it also feels wonderful to hear an audience applaud for giving a great performance. It can also be very honorable and gratifying for a child to voluntarily play in her community and see the happiness on people’s faces as they listen.
When my mother celebrated her 94th birthday last December, I asked my granddaughters to put on a piano concert for their great-grandma. They agreed and planned a 30-minute performance. I printed a program and invited our family and some of my mother’s friends to attend the concert. When I introduced my two granddaughters, I explained that music is a gift to be shared and I was so proud of my granddaughters for sharing their gift with everyone.