boy playing violin

    By: Gayla Grace

    Piano lessons were not an option for me as a child. As a trained musician,

    my father insisted his four daughters start piano lessons at an early age. I

    didn’t always enjoy it and often grumbled about the mandated practice sessions before and after school.

    My teacher was strict and had high expectations of his students, but I’m thankful today piano lessons were a requirement my

    parents didn’t budge on.

    Music lessons compete with a host of other activities for our childrens’ time

    and our money. How do we determine if music lessons are right for our child?

    Does it really make a difference in the long run if we expose our children to

    music education? The evidence of several studies supports the conclusion that the benefits of music lessons outweigh the cost and inconvenience it poses to parents to provide them.

    What does the research show?

    A study led by Dr. Glenn Schellenberg with six-year-old children and another

    study led by Dr. James Catterall at UCLA, tracking more than 25,000 students

    over a ten-year period cites the advantages of music lessons.

      

    • Increase in IQ scores

    • Promotes intellectual development

    • Achieve higher test scores on standardized tests and other 

    proficiency exams

    • More cooperative with teachers and peers

    • More self-confident

    • Better able to express their ideas

    • Improvements in eye-hand coordination, concentration, memory

    • development, listening skills and the overall process of learning

    • Enhanced self-esteem and confidence as they perform in front of a teacher

    • on a weekly basis and participate regularly in recitals or other performances.

    Studying music encourages self-discipline and perseverance, along with

    time-management and organizational skills. Weekly lessons require students

    to prioritize their schedules to allow for regular practice time. When taking

    lessons as a child, I tried to be prepared with each assigned piece to avoid an uncomfortable lesson or reprimand by my teacher. I was actively involved in

    church activities and sports at school, but I learned to manage my time to

    allow adequate practice time on the piano.

    When should my child start?

    Music lessons can begin as early as four years old but an older child (seven or

    eight years of age) has a greater attention span and focus for a musical

    instrument. It’s important that a child has the desire to play an instrument,

    and not be forced by Mom or Dad to take lessons, but encouraged when

    showing an interest. Experimenting with different instruments will help a

    child determine what instrument he is best suited for. If a child begins

    lessons, he should commit to several months of study to gain a “feel” for

    the instrument.

    Where can I find a teacher?

    Finding a teacher that your child can relate to is also important. Learning to

    play an instrument should be fun and interactive, although it requires a fair

    amount of work. Referrals from other parents and students can help in the

    selection process. Interviewing a potential teacher helps identify teaching

    styles and personality traits before beginning lessons. It’s also important to

    know the fee schedule and policies regarding make-up lessons.

    Is it too late to learn?

    It’s never too late to learn to play a musical instrument. As a former piano

    instructor, I loved working with teenage and adult students, who were often

    more committed and disciplined in the learning process. Older students

    prioritize their lessons and practice time over other commitments and have

    better focus and longer attention spans, allowing for faster learning and

    greater satisfaction with the process. Music lessons offer a new challenge for

    teenagers and adults and can have therapeutic effects.

    Learning to play a musical instrument is like earning an education–once you

    obtain the skill it cannot be taken away from you and yet, can provide

    enjoyment and satisfaction for years to come. So, what are you waiting for?

    Seize the opportunity and schedule some music lessons today for you or your

    child!

    (Gayla Grace is a freelance writer and mom to five children who have all

    taken music lessons. She enjoys playing the piano at her local church and other community events).