The Benefits of Learning Music – Toronto Markham Wedding Singer

I remember not really appreciating music at a young age. My parents enrolled  me in an arts school and at the age of 7 and at the time, it seemed like the bane of my existence that I was bombarded with 45 minutes of choral music training everyday. Further I had a 6 day work week as I had to head to the school on either a Saturday or Sunday to sing at St. Michael’s Cathedral on top of the extra 45 min rehearsal I had prior to the mass. And to top it off, I was expected to be practicing a minimum of 30 minutes of piano every night (50 to 60 minutes when I reached higher grades). At some point I wondered if I had wronged my parents in some way and what I did to deserve what seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. Little did I know that these were valuable life skills I was learning at an early age that would benefit me later on.  I truly believe in the value of the arts and it upsets me to the core when a bunch of bureaucrats who have had no experience in the arts are making decisions on cutting music in the schools as a means to save money.

Having many friends with kids, I constantly hear from them how it seems like a struggle to get their kids to practice whatever instrument they are learning. Based on this response, they seem to doubt whether enrolling their child in music was the right thing to do and whether they should continue with lessons. I tell my friends the same thing… absolutely! Would you consider having your child drop out of math or English if s/he was having difficulty? Absolutely not because these are all subjects that will help your child later in life.  Not widely know, but the same can be said for music.

One of the advantages of having children learn and continue with music is that it teaches them patience and the importance of perseverance. We are currently living in a world where children have an attention span on no more than one minute. Don’t believe me, then check to see if your child has an Instagram or Snapchat account. Learning music is not easy and it is something that needs to be repeatedly practiced and rehearsed. One of the biggest attributes of individuals in life who are successful is their ability to persevere in the face of difficulty. It is inevitable that your child will come across a piece of music that will frustrate them. There are times I remember wanting to put my fist through my piano because I just couldn’t get the timing or the notes correct on a certain Minuet or Sonatina. However, I do remember the joy and sense of accomplishment I felt after I was able to overcome that hurdle and eventually master that song. It has taught me a lasting lesson that hard work pays off, even though at the time, the easier option would have been to give up.

Learning music has also been associated with better mathematical abilities, comprehension and better overall grades. In teaching your children music, you are also giving them the benefit of learning another language. In the Toronto area, we have so many people who enroll their children in French immersion schools. However, the reality of it is that if their child stays in Toronto, there is a slim chance they will ever get to utilize those French language skills. However, in learning music and being able to read notes, you are getting all of the same cognitive benefits of learning another language such as an improvement in reading and comprehension skills. Being able to analyze and read music requires that your child first be able to identify the note, decipher rhythm, determine fingering and identify patterns. And all of this has to be processed in a very short period of time.

There has also been studies that show that children enrolled in music at an early age also have better mathematical abilities than their counterparts who are not. This also makes sense as music theory relies on students to utilize math skills. I remember all those theory exercises when I had to understand the different beat value for notes and rests and utilize this knowledge to make sure I was able to create proper bar measures based on the time signature. I’m not trying to say that music theory is equivalent to calculus but it does complement math skills.

There are so many other cognitive benefits to music but one other advantage I wanted to emphasize is that you are equipping your children with a skill set that will last a lifetime. Sports and dance are all great activities that have tremendous life lessons that kids can benefit from well into their adult life.  However, music is one of the few skills that people can continue to actively enjoy and perform at a high level well into the later years of their life. The reality of it is that we don’t see too many 70 or 80 years olds playing soccer or running marathons. However, many great musicians such as Oscar Peterson and Pavarotti were performing right up until the time of their death.

So the next time your child complains about having to practice or claims that their instrument is hard and they want to quit, don’t be so quick to acquiesce. If could be the difference between providing them with a valuable life skill or a lifetime of regret. And please, don’t be swayed by politicians to believe that music is not an important subject in school because it would be a shame to deny a generation of  the joy of music and all the benefits that the learning experience brings.

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