Why Music Matters For Kids

What do Chuck Todd (NBC) and Larry Page (Google) have in common? They are both successful – and they are both musicians. This point was made by Joanne Lipman – co-author of “Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations” – in an Op-Ed for the New York Times. She provides a nice summary of the role that music played in the lives of a number of very successful people.

While these stories may seem anecdotal, the argument is that they are not coincidental. Lipman highlights a number of skills that music can cultivate. Some that resonate with me include:

  • Creatively focusing on right now and what’s next: musicians have to hit their notes in the moment and know what’s coming up next and be prepared to hit – and perhaps create – the notes that will follow
  • Collaborating on a bigger goal: if you are playing together you need to figure out how you all sound good together. Even when the Beatles stopped getting along personally they could make their songs sound fabulous
  • Creatively fusing ideas: music involves sounds and timing and feeling and the synergistic merger that takes raw elements and creates something that’s more than the sum of the parts (not to mention the connection with lyrics and dance to name a few others)
  • Seeing the result of effort: you continue to play music, you get better at it – a very tangible life lesson

These are just some of the benefits. There is a long-standing interest in the links between music and math – some of which have been confirmed by research. This is an area waiting to emerge, as I anticipate seeing in the future breakthrough research that illuminates in greater detail the underlying neurodevelopmental processes that connect music and math.

While many school districts consider cutting music because of budgetary constraints, there is accumulating evidence that music matters more than we might think during childhood. Whether you read stories about how music played an important role in the childhood of many people’s lives, or look at pictures of how key brain areas light up when processing music, it’s hard to not see the primary role of music. As Keith Richards pointed out in his autobiography Life, we all follow the rhythm of the beat of the heart. Turns out that that beat connects in many fundamental ways with the workings of the brain.

Find fun, educational musical instruments at Shop Parents. Or find out how your kid’s talents may become her future career.

Australian Stamp Featuring Keith Richards via Shutterstock.com

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