Music may not be for every child

Music touches each of us in many different ways. For some it is an expression of our emotions, a way to relax or an inspiration to get things going. We can’t get away from music. Look at how beautifully the birds sing even without any formal training. It is not surprising that many parents would want their children to learn music. They want them to not only appreciate but also partake in this wonderful realm of harmony, rhythm and melody.

Learning music certainly has its merits as it sharpens concentration, co-ordination, listening skills, and the list goes on. ”Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” said lead researcher Dr Brenda Hanna-Pladdy. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older” This study was done on 70 healthy adults age 60 to 83 who were divided into groups based on their levels of musical experience. The musicians performed better on several cognitive tests than individuals who had never studied an instrument or learned how to read music. The research findings were published online in the American Psychological Association journal Neuropsychology.

But before you go running to the music school with your kids in tow, do give a thought whether or not your child is inclined to music or has an interest in the subject. There are many literature on what to look for in your child to try and gauge his/her interest. Here’s a few thoughts that you can consider:

If you see your child sing along merrily and enjoying a song, do take note that singing is not the same as learning a musical instrument. Or, watch how the toddlers clap the hands to keep rhythm with the music, which is also one of the tell-tale signs. Another is to listen to how the child speaks when he/she hears a sound. According to some experts, musically gifted children are often more aware of sounds than other children. Thus, if your kid talks about flowing water or music coming from the neighbour’s house, it’s an example of awareness to what the child is hearing.

Learning to play an instrument requires an interest that can endure hours of practice, concentration, co-ordination and so on. Of course, there are the exams to be taken at the end of a year.

Once, one parent said she wanted her daughter to learn the piano because it would be a fall back in case she is not academically inclined. ”At least she would have a music qualification to become a music teacher and make a living,” she said. So imagine being in the shoes of her daughter. It you don’t have an interest in music, how frustrating it must be to sit for hours learning and practising at an age when many of your friends would be playing!

An interesting observation I like to share is my encounter with some adults who are committed to learning to play an instrument but much as they try they just can’t synchronise with the rhythm. Their hurdle is that they don’t have a sense of rhythm and worse some don’t even know when they are off-key. This is something that can be taught, but up to a point one has to recognise that perhaps in some of us, we are just not cut out for certain musical instruments.

There are many reasons advanced by music teachers and others on the merits of learning music. Some of them include building up of self- confidence, nurturing an ability to concentrate, developing discipline to improving memory. By and large I would agree with most of these and certainly there’s a lot of fun be it just singing or playing any musical instrument. I am quite sure it offers a lot of opportunities for creativity but you must have a passion for music to be able to deliver a melodious tune.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.
Image from Pixabay