For us, the ability to play music, to be part of the world of musical performance, is the number one benefit associated with playing a musical instrument. Playing an instrument is its own reward. However, that’s not the only reward, and many people are surprised to learn how many additional benefits come along with this satisfying and in fact fun pursuit.
Below are some findings researchers have made about additional benefits of music training.
Enhances Academic Skills
Yes, there is a connection! Students participating in music do better on standardized tests—including the SAT—than students not involved in music. According to data from the U. S. Department of Education, students involved in instrumental music show significantly higher levels of math proficiency by twelfth grade. Studies show music training positively affecting algebra ability and spatial-temporal reasoning.
But wait—there’s more! Researchers have studied the effects of instrumental music training on reading and cognitive development, and have found those skills are also positively affected. Not only do musically trained students have bigger vocabularies than their non-musically involved peers, but they do better on reading tests and even learn second languages more easily. Here’s a report on music education and improved reading skills.
Increases I.Q. and Improves Memory
Playing a musical instrument helps to develop creative thinking and motor skills. Music stimulates the parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development. Further research has also shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development.
Builds Social Skills and Character
Playing an instrument can be a great way to enhance a child's social skills. It’s very common for people to gain lifelong friendships through musical activities. Experts also agree that children who become involved in a musical group learn to appreciate the rewards that come from working as a team.
Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort. Young musicians who play in a band or orchestra absorb essential lessons about patience and perseverance. Orchestra members have to work together to make music. Children learn to wait to play their instrument at the proper time, learn to adjust to fit their movements and sounds with those of others. They are learning how to cooperate and collaborate, they are learning sympathy and empathy. They are learning the skills of good citizenship.
Children who play music learn there are rewards from hard work, practice, and study. The study of music, particularly classical music, which requires years of sustained effort to master, teaches children to value their own perseverance. Music study gives children the inside track to what MacArthur Award winner Angela Duckworth calls grit. Duckworth’s research has shown what music educators have always known: talent is nice, but hard work is what counts. Children who study music acquire a respect for discipline that carries over into all aspects of their lives.
We all have days when we are so stressed out and we just want to take a break from it all. For people who have learned to play an instrument, music offers a creative escape, a path for artistic expression and emotional release. This kind of release has been proven to relieve stress and can be a great form of therapy. In fact, music therapy has been useful in treating children and teens with autism, depression, and other disorders.
Sense of Achievement
Right from the beginning, a person learning how to play a musical instrument enjoys a sense of achievement. A sound can be produced! New movements can be learned! There are endless small ways to succeed. And as a student practices and develops, the rewards become greater. Each new achievement brings with it the pride of accomplishment. Special happiness is in store for those who are involved in ensembles (bands, orchestras, chamber groups). They experience the added pleasure of collaborative achievement—priceless.
Music Makes Others Happy
Above all, music is a shared experience. The performer cannot function without an audience, and the audience has no function without the performer. We’re all in it together!
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music”.
- Billy Joel