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Music, it’s said to soothe the savage beast. But did you know that musical training can increase math scores, social development and success in life?
Researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. This observation holds regardless of students' socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time.*
It’s been identified that music in a curriculum improves a student’s ability to be educated, with improved cognitive and motor skills.
“Fourth graders who received two years of piano lessons scored higher on a spatial test than children who did not receive lessons,” reports schoolmusicmatters.com. So don’t be afraid to start a child in musical creativity early.
“You want to engage a child, they are sponges, the more you teach them early the more they will appreciate it,” said Frank Degler, an international concert pianist and versatile musician playing 11 instruments. “If they have difficulties in coordination you can overcome that in an early age. It’s easier to start playing and learning at an early age.”
Degler started playing early, was declared a music prodigy at age three and was a pianist for colleges as a middle school student. Not everyone will see such musical success, but music will increase educational, social and emotional successes.
“It takes coordination of motor sensory skills to play an instrument,” said Degler, likening music to vegetables. If you don’t try it, you won’t know that you like it. And like vegetables are to being healthy, so is music.
“Everyday that you don’t open the door to music or dance you are holding her back, let her run with it. Students that have that ability, their life is much more colorful (with music),” said Degler. “If you don’t open it up for them they’ll never know (if they like it).”
Even adults can be taught how to play instruments. “It’s never too late. People expand their horizons in many, many ways,” said Degler. “These are social skills, not just math skills, that went up by 47 percent, but the social environment and the community benefit.”
Just like age is not an obstacle with learning music, neither is money.
“There are community programs, community outreach opportunities. When I have students that need to practice more, I tell them to join a church choir or a community choir. It’s free, you get all that (training) for free, you cannot beat it, that’s where they learn,” said Degler.
Also, take advantage of school music programs. Students can learn about music, the classics and even gain the opportunity to play instruments.
“If you have a child, aren’t you going to give them any benefit you can? If I have a 50 percent chance of improving their math skills or IQ, I will give them that advantage,” said Degler.
And encourage regular practice. By setting specific days/times to practice, a child is more likely to take ownership of that responsibility. “There’s a sense of accomplishment, they are patting themselves on the back,” said Degler.
So don’t delay. Experiment with instruments and let your child have fun learning how to play music. Not only can it give them an outlet for their own creativity, but you are helping their education too.
Playing an Instrument Teaches:
Tips To Tuning Into Instruments
• Start young, children have an innate interest in musical instruments
• Experiment with instruments via school rental programs before investing in one
• Consider starting with a comprehensive instrument such as the piano, organ or harp. Its great to start with lessons.
• Play alongside your child. If you are not musical, pick up child-friendly color-coded books from the library to help your child along
• Invest in lessons, it’s easier to teach young children proper form than an adult (or teen) who’s set in “bad” habits
• Encourage your child to practice regularly, offering incentives for practice
• Cheer your child along
*Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga. "Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts." Los Angeles, CA: The Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999.
Sources: www.childrensmusicoworkshop.com; www.livescience.com; www.musicouch.com; www.schoolmusicmatters.com; Frank Degler, Lighthouse Music Production Studios, a music prodigy at age three, Degler became an accomplished and versatile musician playing eleven instruments. He continues to develop music education curriculum and provide selective private music lessons and finishing performance training for music professionals.