WHY MUSIC MATTERS FOR CHILDREN

Professor Graham Welch
Chair of Music Education at UCL Institute of Education

Music changes your brain. Neuroscientists say that if you have a sustained engagement with a musical instrument - two years seems to be the tipping point - then your brain is changed for life. You're more sensitive to sound, your fine muscular control is better and the two hemispheres of your brain are better at talking to each other.

It's good for Maths and English. Numerous studies have shown that musical training can increase reading fluency and language development and improve spatial and geometric sense. One study found that children with musical training achieved higher grades in every curriculum subject apart from sport and being in a marching band will also improve physical fitness.

Playing alongside others is best of all. Performing with their peers gives children all the benefits of music but with an extra dollop of camaraderie, self-esteem and a sense of belonging and teamwork. Parents can be snobbish about orchestras and choirs but a rock band in the garage or a marching band give exactly the same benefits.

And if they don't like violin or clarinet, try letting them switch to another instrument. You want them to be creative, to explore and experiment with music and they'll do that if they're enjoying it and motivated by great teachers.

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