1. Builds confidence: When a student sees improvement in their playing it can boost confidence in other aspects of their life. Continually progressing towards more challenging goals shows what they are capable of achieving with their own work ethic in a clear and observable way. At Toronto Arts Academy we use a personalized trophy, certificate, and wristband reward system for just this reason to celebrate the goals they reach.
2. Improves creative problem solving: Learning to play any instrument requires practice and time. However, students will quickly realize that the most effective way to assimilate a piece is not by mindless hours spent staring at the page but by creative problem solving. When working through a song students must become aware of recurring problems, understand why they are happening and then find their own solutions. This is a skill that can be applied anywhere else in life.
3. It’s a memory workout: Ever tried to memorize the lyrics to one of your favourite songs? It’s hard! Now imagine combining that with specific pitches, time values, fingerings, technique and you’ve got to reproduce it all in real time. It’s a lot. Music vastly improves our memory and has even been shown to reduce the likelihood of dementia and alzheimer’s. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269311/
4. Challenges dexterity: As our modern world relies heavily on technology, it is more and more common for people to have weaknesses in their fine motor skills. Not only can this become an issue in our daily lives, studies have shown than fine motor skills can be a predictor of academic success. Picking up an instrument aids in building these abilities by providing some fun finger workouts! https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/psyched/201402/fine-motor-skills-and-academic-achievement.
5. Grows interpersonal skills: Music is social. It is a way for people to do something together that is cooperative rather than competitive. In a band or choir setting each member is needed to create the final product. Music teaches us how to be part of a team in a different way than sports does. At Toronto Arts Academy we offer group classes multiple times a week to provide opportunities for advancing this skillset.
6. Helps to decrease stress: Music is art, and art is emotional and personal. Unfortunately, in most people’s work and school lives there simply isn’t the opportunity to spend much time in this space. Playing a song necessitates that the player focus, stay in the moment and remain mentally and emotionally active for its duration. It can be a kind of meditation as well as a safe space to let emotions freely flow. https://www.livescience.com/40597-playing-musical-instrument-good-health.html
7. Teaches discipline: Someone can sign up for a gym membership, hire a trainer and purchase healthy foods, but if they truly want to be fit they have to put in the effort themselves. It is the same with learning a musical instrument. In order to see the best results you have to be committed and consistent in your practice routine, and have the tenacity to keep going when the desired effects aren’t immediately seen.
8. Expands empathy and human understanding: Performing a complete piece of music requires a deep emotional understanding of its intent. One must dig deep to know where to raise dynamics and where to drop them, which parts to rush and which to drag, and what sections to accent or soften. Participating in this work allows the performer to know themselves better and thus understand others better.
9. Improves concentration: To truly practice requires complete concentration. This in itself is a practice that improves with time. Focus is a key life skill that requires development, why not work on it while creating beautiful music? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324813.php
10. Develops listening skills: It may seem obvious, but fantastic listening skills are necessary in all aspects of music. They are needed to play with other musicians, to practice in a detailed manner, and to understand what a teacher or conductor has to say. Learning music teaches students to truly listen, instead of simply waiting for their turn to talk.
11. Reduces stage fright: One of the most common human fears is public speaking. Our hands sweat, our voices crack and our bodies shake. Yet, it is a talent needed to excel in many career fields. Learning a musical instrument and performing on stage can help build comfortability with being in front of others. This is why we offer school wide recitals twice a year, as well as weekly group classes that allow you to work up to that goal.
12. It’s fun!: Knowing how to sing or play an instrument is a gift that lasts a lifetime. It is a joy to make sensible noise, and possibly the most impressive party trick one can do! What’s more is you can always get better. It is inspiring to know that there is no cap in music, it is a lifelong avenue for self expression.