6 benefits of music lessons for kids

Learning to play an instrument at a young age has an astounding range of benefits that can last a lifetime. Here are six reasons to say yes to those sax lessons…

mom and daughter playing keyboard

You’d love for your little one to learn to play the piano or the guitar, but you don’t want to be one of those pushy parents who signs their child up for every class under the sun before they’re even crawling. Put those niggly doubts out of your mind, mama, because learning a musical instrument can boost your child’s development in so many areas. And no one says you have to be a stage mom!

The music lesson benefits we will review in this article are:

  • language skills
  • academic results
  • increased IQ
  • improved motor skills
  • improved social skills
  • increased self esteem and happiness

Here are 6 benefits of learning to play an instrument.

  1. It builds language skills

There’s a large body of research to indicate that music lessons have a positive impact on language development. A recent study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that musical training around the age of five enhanced kindergarteners’ speech perception and language skills.

Researchers from Northwestern University also found that children who received regular music lessons had better reading skills and were faster and more precise in hearing speech in background noise than children who had no musical training.

  1. It improves academic results

If your child’s not doing that well in school, music lessons could help. Numerous studies have linked musical training with higher scores on standardized tests (including the SAT), as well as better academic results in math and English.

A recent longitudinal analysis at the University of Amsterdam found a strong positive link between music education and academic success. Elementary school students who studied music received higher scores on tests measuring cognitive abilities involved in academic achievement (such as planning, inhibition and verbal intelligence) than those who didn’t.

  1. It increases IQ

The Mozart effect – or the idea that listening to Mozart will make young children smarter – has come under fire in recent years because there’s simply no solid evidence to back it up. It seems that listening to music isn’t enough – you need to learn how to play an instrument to reap the intelligence-boosting rewards.

A landmark Canadian study found that six-year-olds who were given a year of voice or piano lessons saw their IQs rise by nearly three points more than their peers who didn’t receive musical training. A follow-up study by the same researcher discovered that the longer children took lessons, the higher their IQs and the better their performance in school.

  1. It develops motor skills

Playing an instrument can help children develop their muscle strength, balance, coordination, and fine and gross motor skills. Instruments such as the trombone and drums develop gross motor skills because they require players to use and coordinate their arms, legs and other large body parts. The violin and piano require strong fine motor skills to hold the bow, pluck the strings and tickle the ivories.

A University of Texas at Austin study found that kids who received two years of formal piano training had significantly better fine motor skills than those who didn’t have lessons.

  1. It enhances social skills

Group music lessons can have a positive impact on children’s social and emotional skills. A Canadian study found that eight- and nine-year-olds with poor social skills showed a marked increase in sympathetic attitudes and prosocial skills (helping others, conflict resolution and sharing) after 10 months of group musical training. For kids who had strong social skills to begin with, music lessons didn’t make a difference.

  1. It boosts self-esteem and happiness

A high IQ and strong tests results are great, but most parents want their kids to be happy and well-adjusted above all else. Great news: music lessons can help with that too! McMaster University researchers found that one-year-olds who participated in interactive music classes with their parents smiled more and communicated better. This was the first study to investigate the benefits of very early musical training on children.

Music lessons also have a positive effect on older children’s sense of self-worth. A University of Texas at Austin study discovered that children who received three years of piano lessons had a significant increase in self-esteem compared to a control group.

Now that you’re convinced of the benefits, all you have to do is help your child decide which instrument they might enjoy playing. Make sure you like the sound of it too because you’ll be hearing it for hours on end!