Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

The Merits of Music
Music education has far-reaching benefits

by Michelle Shirk

November 01, 2013

Do you play CDs during car rides or allow your toddler to bang pots and pans together while you cook? You may be doing more for your child than you think. Read on to learn about some of the benefits of music education and discover ways to incorporate more music into your family’s days.

Why music education?

Lisa Colleen, Activities Director at Bongo Boy Recreational Music Center located inside Bongo Boy Music School, believes music is a valuable tool for cross-brain training. She explains that drumming while speaking or singing engages both the left and right hemispheres, translating to an increased ability to focus. Indeed, a 2006 study entitled “Examination of Relationships between Participation in School Music Programs of Differing Quality and Standardized Test Results” shows a relationship between schools offering superior music education programs and higher standardized test scores. In an interview for the University of Kansas’s “Research Matters” program, study author Christopher Johnson theorizes this may be because the attentiveness used for music is similar to that required for test taking.

Music education also helps students develop listening skills, says Sally Eppert, teacher at Eppert Piano Studio. “Whether in my small group classes or while practicing, students are always playing and then analyzing what they've heard,” explains Eppert. “This process of discovery helps develop every child's musical ear.”

While listening to music or playing a piano can be enjoyed as solo activities, music need not be a solitary pursuit. Eppert reports that in her group classes, students are routinely paired off to review concepts. Similarly, Colleen says that in drum circles, children must learn to watch and read each other. Colleen also sees positive impacts on the parent-child relationship when the parties participate in musical activities together. “Parents come up and say, ‘Thank you so much, I had so much fun with my child tonight,’” she says.

Finally, Colleen notes that students who drum may actually see an increase in their fitness levels. “It’s a very physical activity.”

Incorporating music into daily life

Eppert says parents know instinctually what studies have been proving over the last 20 years: “Children thrive on musical learning.” Colleen suggests engaging kids in activities such as banging on pots and pans, making music with spoons or pounding out a “call and response” on the table. She encourages parents to be silly and laugh with their children. “Don’t make it about whether or not they’re hitting the pan on beat two and beat four.”

Colleen also suggests parents go to the library and take out ten CDs at time, then listen to them at home. She recommends Greg & Steve music as a good choice for children. However, she says, “[Your child] might have a real feel for Mozart. Some kids absolutely love classical music, so play it.”

Making more music

Looking for some outside help in introducing your child to the benefits of music education? Eppert Piano in Fishers offers private and small group piano lessons. “My philosophy is music making is so important to your soul, your very being that everyone should have a chance to take lessons,” says Eppert.

Bongo Boy Recreational Music Center and Bongo Boy Music School provide many ways for children to get in touch with their inner musicians. The recreation center hosts a Kids Rhythm Club each Saturday morning and a free family drum circle each Thursday night. At the music school, private lessons are available for everything from guitar to flute to marimba.

Whether you’re a parent who moonlights as a church pianist or one who can’t carry a tune in a bucket, you can still help instill a love of music in your children. Start making music with your family today!