It seems that so many children the world over begin learning an instrument at about age 6 or 7 simply because “that’s what they’re meant to do at that age right?” It can often (unfortunately) be seen as a way of “keeping up with the Joneses” or as a way of tallying up a list of achievements for the student resume. This can lead to years of running the exam gauntlet, focussing not on the quality of music being produced, or the joy being gained from producing it, but simply on meeting the absolute minimum requirements to get that next piece of paper and be at the highest grade possible.
But that’s not what music is all about is it? Of course not. For me, as a teacher, I think the most important thing a student can gain from music is enjoyment. Music should be fun and exciting! That certainly doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard work. It also doesn’t mean that you’re going to love every single moment you spend sitting at the piano trying furiously to grasp a complex new phrase that just doesn’t seem to want to click. But all music students should experience great enjoyment when that phrase finally does click, when that hard work starts to pay off. Enjoyment can also be found through simply listening to music, composing and improvising, sharing your music with other people or playing with other musicians.
Clearly enjoyment is an incredibly important aspect of music and music education. But what are the other benefits? Music has the ability to vastly benefit students in all areas of their lives; by developing discipline (in particular developing an ability to engage in and acknowledge the rewards of delayed gratification), improving self esteem and confidence, enhancing a student’s ability to communicate ideas both directly and creatively, improving social and team work skills, developing coordination and fine motor skills, as well as reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation.
In this blog I plan to share materials that I stumble across, relating to the benefits of music and a good music education. I may also include other interesting or entertaining pieces that I find relating to music in general. I hope you find this both informative and entertaining!
Richard Gill – The Value of Music
In this talk, given recently in Sydney, Australian music educator Richard Gill argues the case for igniting the imagination through music and for making our own music. His emphasis is on the importance of music education in Australian schools and the idea that it is the right of all children to have access to properly taught music, in the hands of a properly taught teacher.
Music Improves Language and Memory
Here is an interesting article which outlines a study conducted by the University of Hong Kong on the positive influence of music training on verbal memory. The study found that students with musical training recalled significantly more words than those with no musical training.
Benjamin Zander on Music and Passion
This is a wonderful talk given by British conductor and music educator Benjamin Zander. In it he discusses how he believes that classical music can be relevant, accessible and enjoyed by all. Enjoy!
Making Music Together Increases Empathy in Children
This is an interesting article about a UK study which has found evidence that regular participation in music making with others increases a child’s capacity for empathy. The study showed that making music with one or more people promotes “shared intentionality” and “shared mental states.” So this is yet another fantastic benefit to learning music.