Students and probably teachers are looking forward to the start of the new academic year with perhaps a little bit of dread as the summer starts to fade into the past. But wait! Learning piano and indeed other instruments is a fun part of education AND it is good for you. There is scientific proof!
Ok, I agree that scales, technical exercises and sight-reading are not necessarily the most fun. However these scales etc and learning lots of pieces of music actually benefits the maturing of a child’s emotions and behaviour. There has been a study by the University of Vermont College of Medicine which showed that there were significant developmental benefits from even playing an instrument at the most basic level.
It might be that children who have access to good quality musical education will have a more effective path to success in life.
Dr James Hudziak scanned the brain of 232 children aged 6-18 and were looking for relationships between cortical thickness and musical training. The cortex is the outer layer of neural tissue and plays a key role in memory, attention, perception, thought, language and consciousness. Previous studies showed that changes in cortical thickness affected anxiety, depression, attention problems and aggression.
Rather than prescribing drugs to address the problems Dr Hudziak and his colleagues were trying to find out whether an activity such as musical training could reverse the effects of depression for example. It does seem that the more a child works at a musical instrument their attention gets better, lower anxiety and better emotional control. Music actually also helped memory, attention and organisational skills. The result seems to be that children do become more rounded.
It strikes me as a tragedy that so many children do not have access to instrumental music lessons. They miss out on the pleasure of learning an instrument and all that involves and we learn that it also deprives them of the mental health benefits. It has been demonstrated that learning a musical instrument helps the brain to be better able to solve complex mathematical problems and help improve reading comprehension.
Pupils with a practical engagement in music tend to concentrate better in class, are better able to problem solve, work better with others and generally perform better in exams.
Learning a musical instrument is good for you. It has many benefits and I will be discussing these again at a later date.
Here is a non-scientific list that comes to mind. To learn an instrument you learn time management, develop better concentration and discipline, perseverance, it helps coordination, boosts memory, team skills, listening skills, exposes students to cultural history and so much more.
Financial cuts in music education is a false economy, every child should have equal opportunity to play a musical instrument, it will enhance their life for their whole life.
I hope the academic year gets off to a flying start for everyone.