John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. Therefore, education must equip children with the skills and habits necessary to deal with the ever changing world that surrounds them. If children leave school holistically developed and prepared for almost anything, they have the best chance of living a successful life.
Plato once said, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything”. If this isn’t a recipe for success, I don’t know what is. Combine this with the fact that children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education; then the need for a music education becomes even more compelling.
Here are just four of the many benefits of a music education
Music exposes students to beauty
The simple act of making music is of significant benefit in itself. Today’s world is filled with high stress and high pressure, intense exposure to negativity, and a constant need for immediacy – not exactly the best environment for effective learning. Experiencing music in all its forms is the ultimate antidote to these inhibiting factors. For children to have beauty in their lives they must be able to recognise, appreciate and analyse it, and ultimately recreate it. Music brings beauty and appreciation into the lives of all who experience it in a very real way. It helps to create informed and critical citizens.
Opens the mind to learning
A young mind is the ultimate sponge. The ability it has to absorb information is extraordinary. Like a real sponge, though, when the mind gets full it starts to loose excess information. We must open the mind in a way that helps it retain all of the important information it soaks up. Learning music stimulates, develops and strengthens the neural pathways which help to retain information in the brain. It also develops and highlights the ability to set and execute goals, and reflect upon the whole process. The flow on effect is a thirst for knowledge and a desire to constantly improve – all vital tools in keeping the best water in the sponge.
Develops creativity & discipline simultaneously
If a child leaves school with the ability to approach every aspect of their life with creativity and discipline, they are on the path to success. For this to happen, both sides of the brain must be developed. Music is at the forefront of this development. The left side of the brain is the creative side – insight, imagination and daydreaming. These are all inherent qualities in learning a musical instrument. The right side of the brain is the logical side – numbers, language, analysis, reasoning and discipline. Again, these are all inherent qualities in learning an instrument and being in a musical ensemble. Music develops the holistic self.
The ability to empathise with others is a quality in great need of attention, particularly in the high pressure world of immediacy mentioned earlier. Someone who can empathise with those around them is more likely to live a successful and ultimately fulfilled life. Recent studies have shown that children who make music together are better able to recognise and understand the emotions of those around them.
Researchers found that learning music helps to develop the social self, just as much as the academic self. In my opinion, academic skills without social skills are greatly diminished ones. One of the habits of highly effective people is to understand someone before trying to be understood, in other words, empathy. Music develops this habit in a wide variety of ways.
The evidence for the benefit of music education grows more convincing by the day. Whether academic or social, music educates the ‘whole’. Encourage your child to become involved with music and experience the joys of the best investment you’ll ever make in their future.
At Brisbane Girls Grammar School music is considered to be an essential part of each student’s learning program. Girls have a selection of twenty three performing ensemble at all levels of proficiency in which to engage. This allows them to fully explore what it is to be a wonderful person and a fine citizen.
Vaughan Fleischfresser – MMEd, BMus, BEd, ATCL, AACM
Director of Bands and Woodwind Teacher Brisbane Girls Grammar
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