Many studies over the last few decades have produced results proclaiming the benefits of listening to music, and it’s been common knowledge for a few years now that listening to music has positive effects on your mood because of the “feel-good hormone,” dopamine being released. But what happens to the brain when playing an instrument or singing a song? And how does playing an instrument benefit a young child’s development?
The importance of learning music from a young age has been compared to acquiring the skills of reading and writing. Many experts in the field of child development agree that learning how to play music is as important. Learning music stimulates a child’s cognitive development (information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning), motor skills and has a full-throttle effect on the entire brain.
I’ll paint a quick picture for you to keep in mind: The left and right hemispheres of the brain with the corpus callosum in the centre (the bridge of nerve fibres joining the right and left hemispheres of the brain). Neuroscientists have found that listening to music stimulates the corpus callosum, which in turn stimulates both hemispheres simultaneously. This sort of symbiotic stimulation doesn’t occur when reading, solving math problems or playing sport. When listening to music the entire brain looks as if there are little sparks being ignited. Now, the visuals become even more spectacular when the brains of musicians are studied whilst playing instruments. It looks as if fireworks are exploding left, right and everywhere! Anita Collins, an expert in music education and neuroscience says, “playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.” In other words, the entire brain is stimulated when playing music!
Determination: being able to master a difficult piece of music instils a sense of pride and the desire to master other difficult tasks
Confidence: performing music imparts a sense of confidence where your young one feels comfortable enough within themselves to perform in front of people
Time-management: music teachers (well, teachers in general) have little tolerance for tardiness, and making a conscious effort to be on time for lessons teaches a sense of responsibility and shows consideration for someone else’s time.
Passion: music is moving and must be felt. Playing music will inspire your young one to get in touch with their emotions, allowing them to express themselves more clearly. If they really love what they’re doing they’ll go at it for hours!
Team-building: working as a team teaches your child to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and how to support others.
Ukulele: inexpensive, the perfect size for those little fingers, easy to store, and easy to learn; which makes your child confident in their ability to learn new songs and motivates them to continue practicing. (*recommended for ages 5+)
Recorder: the recorder has been eclipsed by the ukulele in recent years but it’s still a great instrument to start with. It teaches intonation, breath control, rhythm and scales. As your child gets older (and bigger) they could move on to the treble and bass recorders. (*recommended for ages 5+)
Percussion: you can choose from a variety of drums (bongo, conga or steel drums), xylophones, marimba’s, tambourines, triangles and more. Percussive instruments are noisy, but they develop important skills like rhythm and timing (*recommended for all ages depending on instrument)
Piano: it offers a strong foundation in music and teaches the treble and bass clefs, and teaches discipline as it takes more time to learn (*recommended for ages 7+)
***If your little one is too small to pick up and instrument, never fear. You can still connect with them by listening to music together. Listening to music with someone stimulates both hemispheres and releases prolactin, a hormone that promotes the feeling of bonding with another person.***0