Most people love listening to music and find great enjoyment and even relaxation from different genres of music. In the age of the internet there really is no limit to the types of instruments and musical stylings available for someone to enjoy. As wonderful as it is to watch a live concert or sing along with a favorite song, music can also be a great teacher in our lives. Learning to play an instrument can not only have a wonderfully positive impact in someone’s personal life, but the effects of making music can reach far into the lives of others as they partake in the listening.
Here are some points that come to mind about the importance of learning an instrument, but also being in a musical ensemble:
There are many academic studies that show listening to music increases brain activity — naturally, there is even more brain activity when playing an instrument. This is simply because playing music requires use of all different parts of the brain at once: math, counting rhythms; language, reading notes and symbols on the page; auditory, listening to how you and the people around you sound, fine motor skills, and choosing the correct fingerings/position/key. Music is a unique experience that draws on all of those things at once, which is a great workout for your brain and can have a positive impact on many other skills, like problem-solving and listening to/processing information.
5th-8th grade brains are developing a lot! This makes them EXCELLENT learners. Many people say to me “I wish that I had learned/continued playing an instrument” simply because this is the best time in your life to learn a new skill. This is great time for children to try new things and learn that they can be a participant in making music, not just a listener.
Being in an ensemble, where you play music with others, creates an added level of opportunity for learning. Similar to being on a sports team, musicians are constantly working on teamwork, thinking of the well-being of the group as a whole over the desires of the individual. In a healthy environment, it becomes a great place for students to learn leadership skills, to encourage others and give positive feedback, and develop discipline to aim toward a common goal for the sake of the group.
Learning an instrument is also a great way for children to express themselves! Artistic outlets can be big confidence boosters and help with self-awareness, emotional expression, and can be something they can continue to do for the rest of their life. Though many people tend to stop playing their instrument once they graduate from college or high school, many enjoy playing again later in life where they connect in community ensembles and can re-challenge themselves with playing an instrument they are already familiar with.
Encourage your child to pick an instrument that seems interesting to them and to give it a try. If they already play, then praise their hard work and encourage them to keep practicing. Playing an instrument is a wonderful skill they will carry with them for their entire lives.