Music can stir the soul, but experts say it can also help kids develop into well-rounded adults.
Whether flitting out notes on a fiddle or blasting out a B-sharp on the baritone, the rigour and challenge of learning a musical instrument can not only help kids develop their concentration and stimulate their intellectual development, but it can also give them a greater understanding and empathy for others.
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Professor Nadia Lavoie at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education says music can increase a child’s sense of confidence as well as help them develop emotional maturity.
“Music is an effective way to canonize and express the emotions of an individual because it mobilizes the primary emotions. That can be a good component in the social world, especially since it can help children develop confidence in themselves,” she said.
The creativity celebrated in music also has a strong role in teaching tolerance and acceptance of new things, Lavoie says.
“Creativity and the acceptance of others makes our world better and us more respectful to other ideas, and it’s a big part of resolution of problems. Music gives kids the ability to see the world in a more creative way and it’s a benefit to the overall development of children,” she said.
As to quantifiable data on specific benefits, such as increased IQ or better test scores in school often anecdotally attributed to music study, science hasn’t found a completely definitive answer — but music study does appear to coincide with some level of increase in life skills.
A 2004 University of Toronto study did appear to show notable increases in IQ levels among students who took music lessons versus those who didn’t, although the study’s supporters and skeptics still disagree on the full meaning of the results.
A large amount of research has shown numerous correlations appear to exist between music study and positive impacts upon things such as literacy, spatial ability and mathematics achievement, although many experts also point out that children who take music lessons often tend come from better social and economic backgrounds — which make it more likely for them to be stronger at such skills already.
Ultimately, Lavoie says music study can be a powerful positive force in the lives of children.
“Music is universal and the things it teaches are universal as well,” she said.