Music And The Brain: Benefits Of Music For Child Development

With a bit more time on their hands during the circuit breaker period, many people had turned to picking up new hobbies and skills. Perhaps your child had shown interest in picking up a new instrument, or have become more passionate than ever about singing.

Now, the question is, is it worthwhile to turn your child’s new obsession into something more long-term? When it comes to learning music, most of us see it as a fulfilling hobby and ‘good-to-have’ skill – but few will consider it essential. In that case, is there still value in letting your child learn music?

Well, just take a look at schools around the world, and you’ll find the answer! So many mainstream schools teach children music, or use aspects of music in lessons. Whether as a study by itself, or as a medium to engage and facilitate learning, music has multiple benefits to a child’s learning and development. Let’s explore some of these amazing benefits of learning music on a child’s mental and academic development:

  • Exposure to music strengthens language skills

If you think about it, it makes sense! Language and music share many similarities, from their auditory nature, to parameters like pitch and rhythm. Thus, developing the ability for listening and understanding one is likely to aid in skills in the other.

Countless research studies have found evidence for this relation. One example is a 2014 study conducted with children in Puerto Rico, which found that formal music training gave 3- to 4- year olds significant advantage in their language scores than peers who did not attend music training.

  • Learning music boosts executive functioning

Engaging in music requires complex coordination of motor skills as well as cognitive skills – just think of the independence required across both hands when playing an instrument like the piano or guitar! From remembering phrases, fingerings, or lyrics, memorisation is also a vital skill that music sharpens.

Taken together, it is no surprise that learning music boosts one’s executive functions, which are cognitive processes including working memory, planning, and inhibition. These skills are also transferable to applications in other subjects, as studies have shown. A 2018 study found that music lessons significantly enhanced students’ cognitive abilities, which translated to improved academic performance.

  • Music training may help mathematics performance

A key component of music is rhythm, which actively engages what is known as spatial-temporal reasoning – the ability to mentally process and manipulate things in space and time, in the absence of a physical object. Examples of this include the ability to visualise rhythm in seeing how the note values of different fractions align up in time.

This ability is also widely used in mathematics, wherein it helps students visualise mathematical problems and solutions, such as in geometry and word problems. As such, there have been many studies that observe improved numeracy scores for children who learn music, especially in younger children.

  • Music practice builds up discipline and concentration

While most students are exposed to music in class through singing or music appreciation, the height of benefits come when one actually embarks on learning an instrument. The long-term process of practice and the pursuit of improvement trains children in their concentration and discipline.

As they learn to plan out their practice, persevere through difficult techniques and music scores, they inadvertently pick up highly valuable skills like self-control, time-management, and more. Not coincidentally, these are also traits that help people succeed academically and in other areas of life.

When all’s said and done, music should no longer be seen just as a ‘filler’ or ‘nice to have’ activity. With its positive impacts on a child’s well-rounded development, music is definitely a worthy pursuit – especially if your child shows passion for it. You don’t even need to be an expert in music, or to immediately commit to formal lessons for your child. Your child’s school can be a wonderful starting point as well!

An international school in Singapore with a robust performing arts culture is bound to have plenty of music activities your child can join in to hone their musical skills. The Canadian International School is one such school that doesn’t just have a wide variety of music activities, but also actively incorporates music into classroom learning. Coupled with school infrastructure like music studios and theatres, CIS is well-equipped to provide your child’s musical passion with the nurturing environment it needs to bloom.

You can explore top IB schools in Singapore at virtual open houses taking place during this time to make the best choice for your child.