Tuesday, September 11, 2018

How Learning Music Can Improve Your Child's Reading by Charles Carpenter

Photo credit by Pixbay

Learning music can be a fun skill for your child to learn, but did you know that it can boost his reading skill too? Knowing this little factoid, it makes sense that there should be a greater push for music programs in schools. If you need a little extra convincing, let’s look at some of the recent research and how else musical training can benefit your child’s academic progress.

The Science

Research supporting the benefits of learning a musical instrument comes from several studies. They include the following:

According to Psychology Today, scientists learned in 2011 that musical ability and reading skills are related.  Music lessons have also been shown to improve communication, brain plasticity, blood flow in the brain, executive function, and more.

In 2014, neurobiologist Nina Kraus, Ph.D., discovered that musical training offered to disadvantaged students in Los Angeles and Chicago public schools helped them improve. According to Dr. Kraus, “we are finding that musical training can alter the nervous system to create a better learner and help offset this academic gap.”

A study from 2015 showed that learning a musical instrument could reduce anxiety in a child, giving them greater control of their emotions and helping them to improve their attention skills.

However, it doesn’t end there. Music can also help improve a child’s self-confidence, math acumen, and positive risk-taking abilities, all of which are important skills that are used in the academic settings and beyond.

Take Advantage of Music Training in School

If it’s available, you should consider letting your child participate in after-school music training programs. Not only will it benefit your child, but the costs are also likely to be more reasonable than getting private lessons.

In addition, your child doesn’t have to get acclimated to a new studio, location, or teachers. He’ll be studying with people who are already around him and may even have the opportunity to sign up with a friend or two from school.

This is also an excellent way for kids who are not athletic to get involved and accepted in school. Read about the importance of music in school in this op-ed piece from Vince DiFiore, the trumpet player from the band CAKE, and visit the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) website for more information on how you can fight for music education locally and worldwide.

Helping Your Child Succeed in Music

If you agree that this is a good route for your child, your next job is to encourage him. First, you may need to help him select a musical instrument if he does not already have an idea. Part of this may include your financial limitations for purchasing the instrument, but there are many options to rent.

You should take into consideration his age, length of his fingers (short fingers will struggle with the guitar!), oral features if choosing a woodwind, and of course, personality. Learn more about how to choose in this post from One How To. Make the choice with your child rather than forcing him to play what you think is best.

To support his training and practice:

Create a practice schedule. Choose a regular time each day for them to spend 10 to 20 minutes at practice.

Don’t let him give up too easily. If he wants to quit, Singspiel recommends getting to the bottom of why he doesn’t want to play anymore first as well as talking with his teacher.
Make sure he is practicing properly. This is tough if you are not musical! The best thing to do is sit in on some of his lessons.

Also, consider buying a metronome or using a click track. These can help your child develop good rhythm skills. That’s right – you can learn rhythm if you’re not born with it.

Set them up in their own space. Find a room where they can practice in comfort. Soundproofing is a good idea, too. HomeAdvisor states that it costs an average of $1,642 to soundproof a room in your home.

Allowing your child to take up a musical instrument will boost his reading skills, but that’s only the start. Take the time to find out what he’s interested in and get him started on lessons today. If your child’s school doesn’t offer a music program, don’t redirect your child’s interest elsewhere. Instead, meet with the principal or other school officials and see what steps you can take to bring music education programs back to the classroom. Music, like math, reading, and art, is an important component of a well-rounded education.

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