I still remember my first piano lesson. I was in the third grade and my piano teacher, Mrs. Robin, made the piano such an exciting and magical thing. I loved my piano lessons! But, I did NOT always love practicing. This was where my parents taught me a very valuable lesson: you can’t just give up. You always follow through with your commitments.
As a piano teacher, I have heard countless stories from students’ parents about missed opportunities, about how they wish they would’ve continued playing, and about how they never wanted to practice. I get it- practicing isn’t always fun, and going on a bike ride seems far more exciting to a child then practicing for thirty whole minutes. So why should you encourage your child to stick with music lessons? Because you are teaching life lessons. You are helping your child develop patterns and strategies for persevering and finishing strong, because let’s face it- we don’t always get to do things that are “fun” 24/7.
(Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not advocating for you to force your child to do something they absolutely hate for years on end. I am, however, encouraging you to set realistic goals and expectations before you and your child commit. Pick a realistic timeframe such as 6 months or a year and explain to your child that they must stick with lessons for that time. Then, you can do an evaluation of the process together. You know your child; set a goal with success in mind.)
So you may be asking, is it worth the battle? Why should I choose music and not another extracurricular activity? Isn’t music class or choir at school enough? If you’re asking these questions, you aren’t the only one. Here are some very important reasons that I believe your child should take private music lessons (or orchestra/school band) at some point during their elementary school years.
- Music lessons boost your child’s self-esteem. As my mom always told me, “Practice always pays off.” I always loved the feeling of accomplishment when I was able to perform a piece in a recital, for friends, or at school because I knew that I had worked hard and was able show others the fruits of my labor.
- Music lessons can help sharpen your child’s social skills. By performing in recitals twice a year, I found that it was much easier to speak in front of my classmates when giving presentations. Performing had given me confidence and poise. There are also plenty of social benefits from playing in the school band or orchestra. Children learn the importance of working together and taking accountability for their own part in the process.
- Music lessons can have cognitive benefits for your child. Numerous studies have been conducted about the cognitive benefits of music lessons for children. While every child is different, by and large, learning a musical instrument has been linked to higher reading skills and mathematical comprehension. It has also been linked to higher levels of critical thinking and strengthened motor skills.
- Music lessons help your child build good life habits. Getting in the habit of practicing on a regular basis helps elementary students develop pre-study skills. It creates positive patterns of self-discipline and self-motivation from an early age by requiring children to take ownership of their work.
For those of you who have children that take lessons, what do you do to motivate practice time? How do you encourage your child to stick to their commitments when it doesn’t seem fun?
Many other sports and activities share some of the same benefits as those listed above. Which activities have been beneficial either for your child, or for you personally when you were a child?
Here are some more interesting facts about the benefits of music lessons for your child. Go here if you would like to know how and when to start your child’s musical journey. Also, if you’re looking for a private music teacher and your child’s school doesn’t have any options that seem like a fit, check out the Music Teacher’s National Association.