Friday, November 7, 2014

Five surprising reasons music and kids are a perfect match

Are you sending your kids back to school this week? Are you bracing yourself for the afternoon when your child comes home, recorder in hand, ready to start piping out some laboured notes assigned by a well-meaning music teacher?

Perhaps you’re reeling at the idea of encouraging your child to practice the piano, clarinet, fife each day? Or wondering if someone else could please drive Junior to band practice from now on?

Reel and wonder not! You are a vital part of a big, awesome, musical picture (and so is your kid!) You totally have to do this (noisy) thing!

Music has all kinds of benefits, not just for mini musos but for the community at large. Not only is your child learning all kinds of good lessons about the beauty and history of music, the discipline of learning to do something well and being part of a group. They’re also potentially contributing to a better future for the whole wide world! Let me tell you more…

1. Cancer treatment 

Music has proven to be an important tool for cancer recovery. As part of a new study children who were undergoing cancer treatment were encouraged to make music videos as part of their treatment program. A music therapist worked with them over a three-week period and benefits included better communication with friends and family, reduced anxiety and increased quality of life. The videos provided a positive focus and also helped parents gain a better insight into what their child was experiencing.

2. Pain relieving

Music has other benefits in treating ill children, too. Lullabies were played to ill children as part of a study on the benefits of music therapy in hospitals. The lullaby listeners’ results were compared to another group of children who were instead told stories. The kids who were played music reaped many more benefits than those who were read to. Their pain was reduced, their heart rates were slowed and they were generally much happier, post-tunes! Children’s wellbeing – their levels of anxiety and relaxation – are mediated by the emotion that the music causes. How amazing and helpful is that?

3. Concentration boosting

And how about music as a conduit for better listeners? A University of London program exposed children between seven and 10  years old  to classical music and taught them how to listen to the music, focusing on the sounds and story within. The study found that kids’ concentration skills were positively affected by the listening and learning, with long-lasting benefits that stretched into other areas of their life. The program’s been delivered to tens of thousands of UK kids with teachers noting benefits in terms of children’s aspirations, self-discipline, personal and social skills.

4. Autism support

Music can be especially beneficial for special needs kids. At the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, students with autism and other intellectual disabilities are taught to play simple pieces and sing songswith all kinds of positive results.  Not only do the kids enjoy being part of the program, it’s boosting their development and providing rehabilitation opportunities for many children too.

5. Connecting with kids 

Italian violinist Sara Michieletto uses her musical skills to connect with street children across the globe. “Soothing, classical music helps angry, traumatised youths become emotionally aware,” she says, helping them to better channel their anger and frustration. Sara says this is really important because these kids have dealt with difficulties and traumas. “Music is a very powerful means of conveying emotions.”

Of course, all these extra helpful benefits are the icing on the cake. Weknow that kids who play music reap the rewards in terms of language development, spatial intelligence, IQ boosting and brain development. Self expression, creativity, craftsmanship and teamwork are allbenefits of a musical education, too. So when your child comes home and pipes out ‘Greensleeves’ on their recorder, resist the urge to wince and smile along. You may be growing tomorrow’s gifted musical therapist or wandering minstrel!

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