The benefits of learning a musical instrument

Nov 2019
There has long been a correlation between musical training and academic success, but there are other benefits too

Whilst being fun and social, extracurricular activities are also important in helping develop a child's talents, interests, and passions. One particularly enriching activity is learning to play a musical instrument. There has long been a correlation between musical training and academic success, but there are other benefits too.

Develops concentration
Learning to play a musical instrument demands total attention, with a child having to focus over an extended period of time. They will need to listen and learn from examples and then concentrate on replicating these notes themselves and remembering which ones come next in the melody.

Strengthens memory and reading skills
A study in 2011 at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, USA concluded that:

Both musical ability and literacy correlated with enhanced electrical signals within the auditory brainstem. Structural equation modelling of the data revealed that music skill, together with how the nervous system responds to regularities in auditory input and auditory memory/attention accounts for about 40% of the difference in reading ability between children. These results add weight to the argument that music and reading are related via common neural and cognitive mechanisms and suggests a mechanism for the improvements in literacy seen with musical training

Teaches the skills of application and practice
Consider learning the piano, a child will learn with one hand, then the other hand, then put the two together and eventually be able to work the peddle at the same time; a novice can't just sit down and understand how the dots and lines on the page create a tune.
The best way to develop these skills is by going over material again and again until it is fully understood, remembered and successfully applied.

Develop the ability to process multiple things at once
Playing music requires the musician to process sound, sight and touch at the same time. Being able to process multiple things at once can be hugely beneficial, especially when trying to sort through multiple sights and sounds coming at you, such as in a city or crowded office. 

Instils discipline and dedication
Children who begin learning a musical instrument at an early age have the opportunity to develop and strengthen their skills over time. They learn to be disciplined in their approach and experience that challenges can be overcome and goals can be reached with hard work and perseverance; valuable life-lessons to learn.

Builds confidence
There are so many moments of personal gratification to be had when learning to play an instrument; each song learnt to play is a new feat mastered. These triumphs are extremely motivational and confidence-boosting for a child, and help to foster in them a self-learning spirit as they go onto challenge themselves further to see what else they can achieve.

Increases our connection to others
Not only can playing music together with someone helps develop closer communication, but it also encourages the group to form a tremendous bond, be that in a duo, a band or orchestra. Its also great fun! 
Music can make people feel happy and performing in front of people or simply sharing the joy that music can bring to others is a wonderful benefit too. 

Learning with Kumon 
At first, glance learning to play a musical instrument and the Kumon Maths and English Programmes may seem quite different, but music and Kumon do in fact have very similar effects on children because they both cultivate skills children continue to use throughout their lives.

The benefits of both activities pay off in the long term by putting children on the path to becoming confident, independent individuals, who have nurtured their passions and reached advanced levels in their disciplines, whether that be maths, piano, English, guitar or in any other subject or instrument.