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10 Reasons Your Child Needs to Learn a Musical Instrument

It boosts executive function.

Executive functions are a set of cognitive skills regulated by the frontal lobe of the brain and include things like time management, decision making, organization, and memory. According to a 2014 study, child musicians display enhanced executive function skills in the areas of language fluency and processing.  

It bolsters academic success.

The effect of playing an instrument on a child's overall academic performance is one of the most widely studied subjects in music education. Time and time again, research has shown that musical students score better, even in classes not normally associated with creativity—like math and science. In some studies, the effects of learning an instrument boosted a child's grades by more than 15%! 

It teaches cooperation.

Unlike other creative practices, such as visual art, music is inherently a group activity. Even soloists need to work closely with accompanying musicians in order to achieve the best performance possible. Learning to cooperate with others is a necessary skill that will serve your child for a lifetime, and what better way to develop it than with an activity where collaboration is key? 

It develops fine motor skills.

Playing a musical instrument requires fast and accurate communication between the eyes, the brain, and the fingers. As students become more adept at this process, studies have shown that their ability to coordinate small muscle movements in general (known as fine motor skills) improves as well. 

It strengthens the corpus callosum.

The corpus callosum is a collection of fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain and allows communication between the two. Since many bodily functions, such as vision and paying attention, require work from both sides of the brain, a healthy corpus callosum is vital for a child's development. Studies have shown that when young children practice musical instruments, the size of their corpus callosa can increase significantly in as little as three years. 

It promotes stress relief.

It's common knowledge that listening to music is a great way to unwind and de-stress. However, making music is even more beneficial. According to some researchers, playing an instrument (even just for fun) helps stop the body's physiological response to stress during moments of duress. 

It enhances social skills.

In addition to being a form of communication itself, making music also requires a healthy amount of communication among musicians. Playing an instrument can help your child with self-expression, as well as other important social skills such as listening and collaboration. 

It builds emotional maturity.

MRI scans of children who play a musical instrument have shown that the areas of the brain associated with emotional self-control and attention are more developed than those of their nonmusical peers. 

It encourages self-discipline.

The success of a musical performance largely depends on the time that musicians spend alone in the practice room. While this individual work may not be fun, it is ultimately rewarding. If your child comes to realize this is true with their instrument, they may begin to apply this self-discipline to other areas of their life. 

It improves memory function.

Playing an instrument requires a tremendous amount of brain power—from remembering correct fingerings to playing an entire piece of music from memory. Studies have shown that children with training on a musical instrument score better on sound recognition tests, which indicate that their echoic (or auditory) memories are stronger than those of their nonmusical peers.