There’s a growing consensus that learning a musical instrument has powerful therapeutic benefits. Learning music helps with brain development and improves brainpower. Music can provide both physical and emotional therapy. It’s a great development tool for both children and adults.
Starting early: The benefit of music for child development
Common Health reports on several brain functions that can be improved by learning music:
- Process sequencing: Everyone needs the ability to put the steps of a process in order. Children start by learning the sequence of events in stories then move to learning their ABC’s. As we get older, we need to learn more complex sequencing. Learning music can help improve this skill.
- Remembering a long sequence of information: Everyone needs to learn and retain large amounts of information. Learning to play a song means that the musician retains information (notes) in a certain order. Music improves our ability to remember a long sequence of steps.
- Multi-tasking: Children eventually need to learn how to do more than one thing at a time. Executive functioning is the ability to know what’s important now, and what we need to do next. This task requires focus and listening skills. Playing in a group improves our ability to multi-task. The musician must be focused on others in the group, so they know when they need to play.
Research shows a strong connection between the ability to learn music and other skills, such as reading and math computation. Common Health points out several studies in which musicians preform better in school. One study found that children who had difficulty identifying chord sounds and rhythm also had more issues with reading and writing skills.
Other skills that music can develop
Time points out that music forces us to hear and process sounds we could not otherwise hear. This concept is referred to as neurophysiological distinction. A musician can tell very quickly if their instrument is out of tune, for example. The ability to identify these differences helps develop reading and language skills.
Music also builds the emotional development of children. Learning music can be frustrating. To master a song or a certain style of playing, the musician needs persistence. The ability to “stick with it” is an important skill that children need to learn.
Music as therapy
Adults need therapy for a variety of reasons. If someone has a stroke or brain injury, physical therapy can help rebuild motor skills. A stroke victim will also need speech therapy to recover communication skills. Adults also go to therapy to address social and emotional issues.
BrainHQ explains that music therapy can help with social, cognitive, physical and emotional issues. Here are some reasons why:
- Our bodies entrain to the rhythm of music. Entrain means that our motor systems match the beat of music without even realizing it. This process can be therapeutic.
- Music taps into our emotions and into our memories. Music therapy can focus a patient on positive images and other thoughts.
Getting started with music
There are several ways to start learning how to play music. Some people use free resources to start learning, such as videos on the web. Others find a music teacher. Online companies, such as LessonRating.com, provide web-based tools to search for music teachers and offer student feedback.
If you’re looking for child development ideas, or considering therapy for an adult, consider using music as therapy.
Leave a Reply