by Karl Beaudry
We parents have a lot of responsibility. From the day our children are born we sense an urgent need to find the best opportunities to help them grow and prepare for their own adult lives. And there’s certainly no shortage of opportunities! Beside our own teaching and what they learn in school, our kids can benefit greatly from all sorts of external activities that greatly enhance their social lives, maintain their physical well-being, and develop their hidden talents.
Baseball, karate, soccer, ballet, gymnastics, swimming, and music lessons are only a few of the many options available and, if we’re not careful, our schedule can quickly overflow and the family car can become a daily rush hour taxi. Maybe we need to consider some serious questions while our kids are still preschoolers – questions about the possibility of overdoing things, the dangers of replacing family time with good intentions, and the effects of our choices on our own schedule – and sanity.
Recent studies suggest that playing and listening to music at a young age improves learning, memory, reasoning ability, and general creativity. Research also supports the theory that young children who are exposed to music develop enhanced cognitive skills. Music teachers are aware that influences of music go far beyond the intellectual and physical development of the child. Studying music contributes to the growth of a well-balanced child in sensitivity, expressiveness, and the spirit essential for functioning in a complicated world.
But maybe it is time to discuss the real elephant in the room! Sports are great and there is certainly a need for exercise among today’s children. But how many adults do you know that are now involved with sports either at a professional or amateur level? Yes – I’m well aware of the pros and cons because I’m caught in the debate on a regular basis. However, as a pianist, I am constantly getting the “I sure wish I hadn’t quit piano lessons” line after every performance. When I see a professional basketball game, I rarely hear people talking about their regrets that they didn’t stick with basketball. Why the difference?
Perhaps the number one reason that music lessons can be of great benefit for all ages is that it becomes a way to handle life’s stresses. Even at a very young age, the focus and effort involved with musical performance are essential to emotional and social stability.
So the next time you are considering whether or not childhood music lessons are “worthwhile”, consider these thoughts and understand that music provides multiple benefits at all age levels. Why not start as early as possible?