Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Music Lessons? Part 1

Hey, what do you know, I can still access this blog after so many months off! Today's post is inspired by a conversation I've had many times with many different people about music lessons. Tune in the rest of this week for more on the topic! These are my impressions and experiences, and will probably not match everyone's experiences.

We spend an awful lot of money on piano lessons for our oldest four children. As in, way more than we spend on anything else except the mortgage. It's rather alarming, really, in a one-and-a-quarter income family. So the question comes up, why? Here's our answer:

1) Music is a whole-life skill. I think music is one of the only things that kids need to start early to be good at and will pursue for their whole lives. Sports are great, and if a kid is going to be a professional athlete I'm sure it's important to start on the early side. But at some point your body starts to wear out and you lose some of your ability, and many sports you can pick up for recreation at any point in your life and improve. Music, while you can start later, you will make much slower progress because your brain isn't as agile as a child's.

2) Music makes you smart. Music is good for kids' brains, so you're helping them with things like discipline and perseverance AND you're making them smarter. For proof, read articles here and here. Music lessons are sort a one-stop shop for lots of great things--character development, brain boosting, and self-confidence, to name a few.

3) Music gives you self-esteem. It's really nice for kids to have something they feel good about. Recitals may not be my favorite way to spend my Sunday, but what a great thing for my kids to regularly perform by themselves, conquer their fears, and succeed at. And on the rare occasions when they don't succeed, they learn that the world doesn't end just because they didn't do as well as they wanted to, and they usually practice more before the next recital.

4) Music makes you more sensitive. It teaches kids to pay attention to sound, to play soft and loud, to express their feelings in a different way. One of my kids I thought at 5 needed a little softening, and I think music has done that.

5) Music teaches discipline. I'm putting this one toward the end because I think there are a lot of kids' activities that do this. Anything they have to work at and struggle through is good for them in the long run. Music is the arena I've chosen for my kids to learn these life lessons in.

6) Music trains them for worship. When our oldest child showed unusual music perception, it felt like it would be poor stewardship of the gifts God has given us to not start her in music lessons. And part of that is because I want the next generation of believers to have educated musicians to lead them in worship. And people sitting in the pews who can read a line of music. And people who appreciate classical music as well as the latest praise song. Even if you're not a Christian, music has the ability to touch us and move us as nothing else can, so it's important for a culture and a society to have skilled musicians and educated music-appreciators.

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of this series, what the Suzuki method is like.

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