Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music Matters....the benefit of music lessons

Music and math are very much connected.  Musical beat, rhythm, and scales introduced at an early age easily translate into fractions, division and patterns. "More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievements with children who are exposed to music," says children's music specialist Meredith LeVande of "Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development."  Many studies have shown a direct correlation between musical training and improved language development, IQ, Academic performance, creativity, and problem solving skills.

"Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child's learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development," says Maestro Eduardo Marturet, a conductor, composer and musical director for the Miami Symphony Orchestra.  Children with music training have significantly better verbal memory that those without such training.  The longer the training, the better the verbal memory.  (Ho,Y.C., Cheung, M.C., & Chan, A. 2003. Neuropsychology, 12)

"Socially, children who become involved in a musical group or ensemble learn important life skills, such as how to relate to others, how to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that come from working together, and the development of leadership skills and discipline," says Marturet, who also oversees the MISO Young Artist program in South Florida, which allows young musicians to hone their musical skills as part of a professional orchestra.  Kids, spanning a wide age range, involved in an orchestra will see value in each participating musician based on dedication, teamwork, discipline, character, and perseverance; not value based on similar age.

"They find that they can develop a skill by themselves, that they can get better and better," says Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen, a music teacher and performer.  Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.

Music practice refines discipline and patience.  There are no instant results; learning to play well means persevering through hours, weeks and months of practice.  Children learn the concept of delayed gratification, improved patience, and respect for a method they may not fully understand at the present moment.    

Who doesn't sometimes feel a little disconnected from their lives? Music can be a much-needed connection between children and parents.   "It can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life …it makes people more alive and connected with one another," says Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specializes in musicians.

In some pursuits, you can never truly learn everything there is to know. Music is like that. "It is inexhaustible -- there is always more to learn," says Jolkovski.  A good music teacher will share with their students how they are still furthering their musical education; how they are still pushing themselves. 

How can kids really express themselves? One great way is through the arts -- like music. "It gives pleasure and expresses nuances of emotional life for which there are no words," says Jolkovski.  Most  importantly, music gives an expressive dimension to our worship and individual communication with our Creator.   Col3:23 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”, when music is practiced with this verse in mind, it becomes a sacrifice praise, not just another academic.

To improve in music, you have to not only do well and pay close attention in class, but devote regular time to daily practice.  And not just playing the instrument, but smart practice. That requires discipline.  "Exposing kids to musical instruments is the key. They are naturally curious and excited about them -- and the discipline that parents AND kids learn by sticking with it is a lesson in itself," says Mira Stulberg-Halpert of 3D Learner Inc., who works with children who have ADHD.


Above all, playing music -- particularly as kids get to more advanced levels in it -- is a creative pursuit. Creatively is good for the mind, body and soul.

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