Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.
Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.
“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.
YOUR CHILD CAN BENEFIT FROM
EARLY MUSIC EDUCATION
Forbes Magazine states, “…It’s sure to be music to parents’ ears: After nine months of weekly training, in piano or voice, new research shows young students’ IQs rose nearly three points more than their untrained peers…”. Music is important for a student’s brain development, especially young children. If a child is not ready yet for private lessons, he/she can greatly benefit from private or semi-private music lessons.
“When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is so important at that stage,” says Luehrisen. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. “Growing up in a musically rich environment is often advantageous for children’s language development,” she says. But Luehrisen adds that those inborn capacities need to be “reinforced, practiced, celebrated,” which can be done at home or in a more formal music education setting.
According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.
This relationship between music and language development is also socially advantageous to young children. “The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”
Benefits of Early Music Education
A study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science, found a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. Schellenberg provided nine months of piano and voice lessons to a dozen six-year-olds, drama lessons (to see if exposure to arts in general versus just music had an effect) to a second group of six-year-olds, and no lessons to a third group. The children’s IQs were tested before entering the first grade, then again before entering the second grade.
Surprisingly, the children who were given music lessons over the school year tested on average three IQ points higher than the other groups. The drama group didn’t have the same increase in IQ, but did experience increased social behavior benefits not seen in the music-only group.
The Brain Works Harder
Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a nonmusician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.
In fact, a study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found changes in the brain images of children who underwent 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice. The students in the study who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, and brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain associated with those abilities, according to the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research.
Research has also found a causal link between music and spatial intelligence, which means that understanding music can help children visualize various elements that should go together, like they would do when solving a math problem.
“We have some pretty good data that music instruction does reliably improve spatial-temporal skills in children over time,” explains Pruett, who helped found the Performing Arts Medicine Association. These skills come into play in solving multistep problems one would encounter in architecture, engineering, math, art, gaming, and especially working with computers.
Improved Test Scores
A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.
Aside from test score results, Johnson’s study highlights the positive effects that a quality music education can have on a young child’s success. Luehrisen explains this psychological phenomenon in two sentences: “Schools that have rigorous programs and high-quality music and arts teachers probably have high-quality teachers in other areas. If you have an environment where there are a lot of people doing creative, smart, great things, joyful things, even people who aren’t doing that have a tendency to go up and do better.”
And it doesn’t end there: along with better performance results on concentration-based tasks, music training can help with basic memory recall. “Formal training in music is also associated with other cognitive strengths such as verbal recall proficiency,” Pruett says. “People who have had formal musical training tend to be pretty good at remembering verbal information stored in memory.”
Music can improve your child’ abilities in learning and other nonmusic tasks, but it’s important to understand that music does not make one smarter. As Pruett explains, the many intrinsic benefits to music education include being disciplined, learning a skill, being part of the music world, managing performance, being part of something you can be proud of, and even struggling with a less than perfect teacher.
“It’s important not to oversell how smart music can make you,” Pruett says. “Music makes your kid interesting and happy, and smart will come later. It enriches his or her appetite for things that bring you pleasure and for the friends you meet.” While parents may hope that enrolling their child in a music program will make her a better student, the primary reasons to provide your child with a musical education should be to help them become more musical, to appreciate all aspects of music, and to respect the process of learning an instrument or learning to sing, which is valuable on its own merit.
“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”
Laura Lewis Brown caught the writing bug as soon as she could hold a pen. For several years, she wrote a national online column on relationships, and she now teaches writing as an adjunct professor. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and three young children, who give her a lot of material for her blog, EarlyMorningMom.com.
Whether your child is the next Beyonce or more likely to sing her solos in the shower, she is bound to benefit from some form of music education. Research shows that learning the do-re-mis can help children excel in ways beyond the basic ABCs.
If you're a parent who desires your children to have a one-on-one experience with their instructor or if you're an adult who'd prefer the same type of instruction, we recommend private lessons. Private lessons are offered for any age, from 3 to 93. Music lessons can be taken weekly and scheduled on one or more days of the week, either on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays. The lengths of the weekly music lessons can vary. The options include 20, 30, 45, and 60 minutes.
We provide private lessons on St. Thomas in PIANO, GUITAR, DRUMS, VIOLIN, STEEL PAN, UKULELE, BASS GUITAR, AND VOICE. Private music lessons in our St. Croix location include PIANO, GUITAR, DRUMS, UKULELE, BASS, AND VOICE.
We even provide opportunities to combine two or more instruments in one visit or multiple times per week. Please call us at (340) 344-6449 to request costs and an application. We can schedule you or your child's private lesson right over the phone.
Senior-Adult Group Piano Lessons (Ongoing Weekly Lessons for ages 55 & Up) Great for Retirees!!!
G-Clef Music Academy is offering senior citizens and adults a weekly course that will teach them how to play the piano! All levels are welcome, whether you are a beginner or have been playing for years. The Seniors-Adults group piano lessons are held on Thursdays, 1:00pm to 2:00pm at G-Clef's St. Thomas location. REGISTRATION IS ONGOING for these lessons.
We encourage older beginners of all ages to learn an instrument, so we created the SENIOR-ADULT GROUP PIANO LESSONS. It's a group piano lesson with seniors who sincerely want to learn how to play an instrument. Maybe you missed an opportunity to learn an instrument at a young age, or maybe you took it for granted and want to continue learning. G-Clef has created an opportunity just for you. Enroll today in Senior Adult Group Piano. This group music class is for older beginners and intermediate level students. The 60-minute music class is scheduled for one day per week and runs consecutively for 4 weeks. If you have NEVER, EVER touched a piano before, no worries. We have taught adults of all ages how to play the piano. You will learn and play at your own pace! You will begin playing music the first day you attend your group lesson.
Senior-Adult Group Piano Lessons are set for Thursdays at 1:00pm.Please call today to get STARTED!
Norman Weinberger, a neuroscientist at University of California Irvine who has done pioneering research on the auditory system and the brain, says that while it’s harder for the mature brain to learn an instrument, it's not impossible. Unlike with language, there is no single music center in the brain — rather, there are a lot of them.When brain scans have been done of musicians, you find the enormity of the areas of the brain that are actually being activated. A lot of people believe the brain isn't very plastic after puberty. In fact, the brain maintains its ability to change. Is it as easy to learn something when you're 65 as it is at 5? No. But can it be done? Yes. There are real payoffs [for adults who wish to learn how to play an instrument]. Playing music is great mental exercise and can keep brain cells alive that would otherwise wither and die. And it's fun.
Can adults really learn how to play an instrument?
It's never too late to learn how to play an instrument. Research has proven that playing music is great mental exercise...and it's fun!
Children and Adult Beginners
We teach music to children as young as 3 years old
G-Clef Music Academy has several music programs available for young, adult and senior beginners.
YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT AT ANY AGE
"If your child is showing that he/she loves music, give them the opportunity to learn it. We make it easy for them to learn how to play an instrument, while having fun!"
~James H. Gumbs, Jr., Academy Director
Music Exploration (Ages 3 to 5)*
Preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, can enroll in G-Clef's MUSIC EXPLORATION PACKAGE. Little ones get 20-minutes of private one-on-one time with the music instructor! These early musicians will explore and learn various instruments, including pianos, drums, violin, steel pan, ukulele, bells, chimes, and many percussion instruments. Music Exploration uses music to teach music! If you want to see your little one having fun while learning...give him/her Music Exploration time!
The Music Exploration private lesson can be scheduled according to your schedule and availability. The 20-minute music lesson is scheduled for one day per week and runs consecutively for 4 weeks. Please call to schedule your little one's time today. The monthly cost for the Music Exploration is set at a special rate to get your early learner STARTED!