Study after study shows the connection between music education and academic achievement, and the benefits don’t stop there. Music education can shape abilities and contribute to the emotional health and happiness in children.
Here are seven social and emotional benefits of music education.
A Sense of Achievement
Children feel a sense of achievement with every skill level they master on their instrument. When kids discover they are capable of accomplishing a new skill with an instrument, it gives them to confidence to tackle other areas of their lives; like a math test or an English paper.
“If you want self-esteem, then do estimable things. Accomplishments and know-how can’t be handed out or downloaded into someone’s brain like they are for the characters in The Matrix. They must be earned through individual effort. It is the endeavor that generates a sense of pride and inward esteem.” [Source: Psychology Today ]
People are naturally drawn to other people with similar interests. When children make music together friendships develop. Making friends is important to the health of kids.
“For children, making friends is a vital part of growing up and an essential part of their social and emotional development. Attributes such as social competence, altruism, self-esteem and self-confidence have all been found to be positively correlated to having friends. Studies have found that friendships enable children to learn more about themselves and develop their own identity.” [Source: Life Education ]
Improve Self Confidence
There’s a difference between self confidence and self esteem, though one does influence the other. Children with high self esteem may like themselves but may not be confident in themselves beyond what they know they already know how to do. For example, a first grader may be confident in how fast she can run and that makes her feel good about herself. But when asked to join the school choir, she declines because she isn’t confident and thinks she may not be a “good enough” singer.
Said another way, self esteem reflects on what you already know about yourself. Self confidence is what you need to try something new. Not having the confidence to try new things limits children from reaching their highest potential levels of success. Self confidence improves as children overcome each challenge they face. Learning to play a musical instrument provides opportunities to overcome challenges and develop self confidence.
Cope With Anxiety
Ask adults if they are comfortable speaking in front of groups of people and most will tell you “no.” Kids feel the same when they have to give a speech in front of their class. They talk about the anxiety it causes. Ask a child who has experience performing music if talking in front of their class causes them anxiety and you’ll get the opposite response. They have experience being in front of groups of people and are confident and comfortable in that situation. Being in front of a crowd isn’t the only type of anxiety that playing music helps children cope with.
“Research shows that making music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression.” [Source: Live Science]
“Musical training linked to lower anxiety in children
Researchers, from the University of Vermont, have shown that musical training can lead to lower anxiety in children and help with emotional control, as well. Simply put, the research has shown that music can thicken the cortex, which is the decision making part of the brain.
A thicker cortex allows for greater executive function and decision making, which can help children and teens formulate better decisions based on the data available to them.
The development of the cortex happens more rapidly when children learn to play an instrument because they learn to better focus their attention, control their emotions and decrease childhood anxiety.” [Source: Viewpoint Center ]
Stress can affect anyone who feels overwhelmed; from toddlers to seniors. We’ve long thought that listening to music can help reduce stress. Now there’s evidence that playing a musical instrument also reduces stress.
“Stress starts in the brain and then kicks off a chain reaction that switches on the stress response in every cell of our bodies. Over time, these cellular switches can get stuck in the “on” position, leading to feelings of burnout, anger, or depression as well as a host of physical ailments.
Researchers now know that playing a musical instrument can switch off the stress response, improving physical and emotional health. When our senses detect a possible threat in the environment, the body undergoes a chain reaction in which genes within each cell switch on, directing the cells to produce chemicals associated with the stress response. Playing music sets off an opposite chain reaction that switches these genes off again.” [Source: WebMD ]
Working with others is a critical life skill that’s important to learn as a child. When parents think about teamwork, we often think “sports” but music actually requires as great, if not greater teamwork. If a sports team has one superstar that can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Just get the basketball to Bobby. He can hit the hoop from anywhere. But put a fabulous guitar player, killer bassist, goose-bump inducing vocalist with an off-beat drummer and the sound is painful! Music teaches teamwork every bit as much as sports.
Develop Self Discipline
Playing music with band mates is fun. However, in order to do so each musician needs to learn to play their part on their instrument outside of band rehearsal. It requires self discipline to set aside time to practice and to practice even when you just don’t feel like doing it. Author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn explained it this way, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
“Kids who have self-discipline can cope with uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. They’ve learned anger management skills and are able to control impulsive behavior. They can respond respectfully when adults correct them and they can take responsibility for their behavior.” [Source: Very Well]
Developing self discipline as a child serves a person well throughout life. Music education can help a child learn self discipline.
Here are Ovation Music Fund our mission is to provide low income children under 18 with music scholarships so they may attend any approved after-school music program in the US. Ovation currently works with over 120 music schools in 27 states, helping children receive a premiere music education experience. We cannot do this without the financial support of supportive and caring adults. If you’d like to donate, click here.