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Why Should Kids Study Music??
Music Makes the Brain Grow Childhood music lessons actually enlarge the brain. German researchers found that the brain area used to analyze musical pitch is an average of 25% larger in musicians. The younger the musical training begins, the larger the area. (Nature, April 23, 1998)
Substance Abuse Lowest in Music Students
A Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse report showed that secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances. (Houston Chronicle, January 11, 1998)
Higher Test Scores
A ten-year study, tracking more than 25,000 students, shows that music-making improves test scores. Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams.(Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997)
A McGill University study found that pattern recognition and mental representation scores improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period. They also found that self-esteem and musical skills measures improved for the students given piano instruction. (Dr. Eugenia Costa-Giomi, April, 1998)
More Honors and Higher Grades
Data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 showed that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non-participants receiving those grades. (National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 First Follow-Up (1990), U.S. Department of Education)
Better at Math and Science
Research shows that piano students are better equipped to comprehend mathematical and scientific concepts. A group of preschoolers received private piano keyboard lessons and singing lessons. A second group received private computer lessons. Those children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34 percent higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than the others ‹ even those who received computer training. “Spatial-temporal” is basically proportional reasoning – ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time. This concept has long been considered a major obstacle in the teaching of elementary math and science. (Neurological Research February 28, 1997)
- For preschool and early elementary ages (scroll down to see the pdfs)
- For elementary and high schoolers (pdfs)
- For everyone (pdf)
Getting a child to practice the piano can be challenging. Every child is different, and each is motivated by different factors. Here are a few simple steps that can encourage your child to practice the piano.
- Make sure your practice room is free of distractions during practice time. Ensure that the room is not too warm or too cold. Doing these things helps to create a comfortable and conducive practice environment.
- Set aside a specific time for practice each week. This way your child will learn to expect the routine.
- Make an agreed upon piano practice contract with your child based on rewards.
- Set up a visual system for rewards, such as a sticker chart to help track practice time or the number of pieces practiced. Your child will be more motivated as she will be able to immediately see the accomplishments made and progress towards the anticipated rewards.
- Always give positive reinforcement during each practice session to increase your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Do not criticize.
- Commend your child’s efforts in learning a piece, not just the accomplishments.
- If a piece of music is too hard to learn, break it into sections. This helps your child to not to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
- Listen to your child and discuss her feelings about what she is frustrated with or has learned before and after each piano practice session.
- Do not force or threaten your child. This will make him resent practice.
- Be a supportive parent. If your child wants you to be around during practice, find that time.