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Does Learning a Musical Instrument Benefit Kids and is it Worth the Cost?

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Playing a Musical Instrument and the Associated Cost

You may be thinking that you’d love to give your child the opportunity to play a musical instrument, but there is a cost and does the benefit exceed the cost? I hope to convince you that this is an opportunity you won’t want your child to miss. As for cost, I have been giving private music lessons for 20+ years and there are ways of keeping the cost down. I’ve had parents ask to do bi-weekly lessons instead of weekly. I’ve also done small group lessons where the parents share the cost. Instruments can be rented instead of purchased. If cost is still an issue for you, talk to your music teacher and see what suggestions they have.

The benefits of playing a musical instrument are numerous. I’d like to talk about a few.

Playing an instrument is good for your brain. Regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of your brain. Musicians are shown to have significantly more developed left planum temporales. The parts of the brain that control motor skills, hearing, storing audio information and memory become larger and more active when you play an instrument, causing a boost to mental functions that lasts a lifetime.

Playing an instrument is linked with improved memory, reading and comprehension. Reading sheet music and translating it to finger position then music takes persistence and skill.

Playing an instrument teaches discipline, commitment, responsibility and accountability. Music students develop discipline by learning to maintain a practice schedule. They develop the life skills of responsibility and accountability by attending each lesson, coming prepared and learning new material. This self discipline carries over to other areas in life.

Playing an instrument relieves stress and is a form of self expression. Studies show that playing a musical instrument can reverse multiple components of human stress. Playing an instrument keeps you engaged in something pleasurable, enjoyable, and calming while giving you a chance to express yourself.

By giving your child the opportunity to learn an instrument you will be giving them a lifelong talent and skill set. If you have financial concerns talk to your music teacher to see what arrangements can be made. Take advantage of this lifelong opportunity for your child.

© 2013 HeatherH104

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    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 

      5 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I began with a recorder after finding one in a bin of child's toys. The cheap imitation made my spirit soar and I bought a rosewood soprano and tenor. But the range and drawbacks of the recorder made things go so slow. Then I found the ocarina. I have an alto with the range of an octave and a half made of bloodwood, canarywood, and jatoba. It was so much easier to play and its music so sweet, I didn't care about its limited range. Then I recently started learning the triple chamber ocarina with 3 octave range. I am working up to a quad but I will not invest the money until I am much better at the triple. The community of ocarina players are so friendly and open to helping but I am such a slow learner and now my years and arthritis add to the difficulties. I really never thought about making money with my playing, only blessing an audience with a performance or two. And to sing to God with it, of course. God bless you.

    • HeatherH104 profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherH104 

      5 years ago from USA

      Your story makes me sad. When I taught music in the public school I would let the kids pick whatever instrument they wanted. My bands ended up mostly flutists and drummers, but everyone was happy and I had very few drop outs.

      As far as you learning an instrument now, absolutely do it! If your expectation is that you will be a professional musician you may want to reconsider that goal but you can receive a lot of enjoyment in addition to using different areas of your brain. It is also a great activity that reduces stress. The sound is not the most important part but rather the process and your enjoyment during the process.

      Good luck! I'd love to hear how the process is going if you do choose to pursue learning an instrument.

      Heather

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 

      5 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I was wondering what you can tell me about a man almost sixty that is now just learning music. How many people my age can really pick up the skills? I love to hear the sounds that I am making. I never had the opportunity to play when I was a child. My mom had a piano because she "wanted to learn" but it was so big and she just learned to play one or two songs and then stopped. We had no money to get lessons and she would never take the time to tell me what she learned. So I am staring at what looks like a millions white and black things and wondering how anyone would begin to know which to push, let alone how long and when to stop. I have always wanted to play flute. My mom said that if I could find a way to have a flute to use I could take band. But as it turned out there was only two flute spots and they went to girls. I still wanted a flute and there was one someone was giving away but mom (she made all the decisions) said that I couldn't take band and that we had no money so it wasn't worth the money in gas to go to the person's house and pick the flute up for free. I think I wanted it bad and she was angry with me so she would not let me have it. It hurt me a lot but that is another story. hahaha Great article. Loved it.

    • just helen profile image

      just helen 

      6 years ago from Dartmoor UK

      Ah, I'll have to try that, Heather!

    • HeatherH104 profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherH104 

      6 years ago from USA

      It certainly helps to be able to already read, but listening and imitation skills are very important with young learners so working on learning some by ear and starting with simple rhythm reading (with note names written under the rhythm) gives little ones a great head start. I've had young ones start this way then add one line so that the note going through the line represents one note, then the note just below the line represents the next note down (then add a note just above that one line to represent the next note up). Once mastered you add more lines until you have a complete staff. There are a lot of little tricks you can use with little ones! :)

    • just helen profile image

      just helen 

      6 years ago from Dartmoor UK

      I'm usually keen a child is already reading before starting them on reading music. I've tried teaching younger children, employing musical games rather than teaching music per se. But I've not had much luck so far! I know there are teachers who do this, though.

    • HeatherH104 profile imageAUTHOR

      HeatherH104 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thanks for your comment! :)

      As far as age, I do think it depends on the child as well as which instrument. A wind instrument requires more developed lungs. String instruments and piano can be started as early as 3 or 4 if the child is interested and has the attention span. I started my son on piano at age 4 but never pushed him to play and kept daily practice times short (5-10 minutes).

      It's great to meet a fellow musician!

    • just helen profile image

      just helen 

      6 years ago from Dartmoor UK

      Hi Heather! As a music teacher myself I agree totally with everything you have said in this article. It has been commented on many times that reading music requires patterning skills akin to mathematics. Indeed it has been said that had Mozart been alive today he would have been a computer programmer!

      What age do you recommend a child begins learning, or do you think it depends on the individual?

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