Music, Music Education

Embracing the Benefits of Music – Part 1

Image by Joyce Hesselberth

As I’ve been preparing for an upcoming workshop, I’ve been reading many articles about the benefits of music. Its refreshing to reiterate for myself the importance of the work I am involved in. My reading has re-energized me, motivated me to continue what I’m doing, and rekindle my own personal music making.

I’ve been an advocate for music education for as long as I can remember so this is not “new” for me. I began piano lessons at age 5 and continued through college where I completed a degree in Music Education and Piano. Were there times that I didn’t like it and wanted to quit? Sure, many. But my dear mother wouldn’t let me quit, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I admire the role parents play in their children’s lives when it comes to extra-curricular activities. I find with children today that our society emphasizes the quick results, get it now type of attitude which often leaves people giving up on their current interest to quickly move on to something new. You know the phrase, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. Unfortunately many of us in today’s society have this attitude in work, marriage, relationships, and even leisure activities.

I applaud parents who help guide their kids to find an interest and then motivate them to keep exploring and learning in that area. Learning to stick with something, even when it is difficult, is a great skill to have.

Music education, or the learning of music, whether it be taking a music lesson or learning about the history and appreciation of music, has many benefits to children. Research is continually telling us that studying music has benefits not only when children are in school but for the rest of their lives. Researchers have been able to study the brain and compare brains of non-musicians to musicians and the results are encouraging.

Children who study music have improved attention and memory skills which help them do better in school, do better in math and reading, and score higher on SATs.

Older adults who begin experiencing hearing loss are often able to pick out speech in a noisy environment better if they had studied music. Through music study we strengthen our central auditory processing skills in the brain that aid us in hearing speech more clearly even after we begin losing our peripheral hearing.

Most importantly, music is fun and enjoyable! We can’t forget that even though there are many wonderful benefits of music for us academically and physically, music touches us emotionally in a very powerful way. Music can be a social experience connecting us with others, but it can also be very personal, evoking the strongest emotion from a place deep inside.

To read more about the study with older adults and hearing loss mentioned above, please click here.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Embracing the Benefits of Music

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