Check out These Surprising Benefits of Learning Music

It’s never too late to start

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning” — Plato

Monday is music lessons day at my house. It’s a day when I explain quarter notes and eighth notes and sharps and flats and staccato and legato and allegro and moderato to children. And then they explain to me why they haven’t practiced.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Hearing excuses about practicing is probably only 15% of what being a music teacher is all about. Besides, some kids actually practice, and that’s awesome.

I’ll be honest. I never wanted to teach piano, but this is the sort of thing that happens when you take piano lessons for ten or so years and don’t completely stink at it. Since I really love to play the piano, passing that on to another generation is something I’m totally cool with.

I heard it said once that every child should learn an instrument. And I’ll admit, I thought it was a little over-the-top at the time — because let’s face it, some kids just aren’t interested.

But on the other hand, I was never interested in math or science. No one ever gave me the option not to learn them just because it bored the snot out of me. Besides, whenever tax day comes around, I’m grateful for the math I was forced to endure. As much as I didn’t like it, in the end it was good for me.

From the quote above, it sounds like Plato also considered music a core curriculum — and if Plato’s on your side, that ought to give some weight to an argument, shouldn’t it? Maybe saying that every child should learn an instrument isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Consider this:

- Learning music improves math skills. In fact, it may be the one reason I didn’t flunk math entirely in high school. (Okay, I am only…oh, 67% serious.)

- It strengthens motor skills.

- It makes you happy. This is totally unscientific and based on my own anecdotal evidence. Because whenever I’m in a really terrible mood, playing the piano for a while can bring me out of it.

- It helps you to learn discipline. That is, if you’re not fudging on your practices and lying to your teacher. Not that I ever did that, understand.

- It helps you learn how to work with others. I’ve played the piano with soloists, choirs, and congregations, where interactive skills are a must. The same skills are necessary for bands and orchestras as well.

- Learning an instrument can give you a leg up if you ever decide to learn another one, since you already understand the basics of music. In addition to the piano, I’ve learned the violin, organ, and harp — and picked up a bit of the guitar and ukulele. Really, when it comes to instrument learning, you’re only constrained by the bounds of your own imagination.

Have I convinced you to learn an instrument yet? If not, I’ll leave you with one last quote, the words of world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma:

“Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.”

By the way, if you’re an adult looking to learn an instrument, don’t get discouraged because these quotes only talk about children. I believe it’s never too late to learn an instrument. I started learning the harp six years ago, as an adult. I have known several people who learned to play instruments as adults as well, including an 80-year-old woman who took up the piano. If you’re breathing and alive, I say it’s never too late to learn.

So what’re you waiting for?

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