The Benefits of Learning Music

The existence of music and the benefits of actively engaging with it are infinite. You only have to do a simple google search to be presented with unlimited research, scientific findings and experiments that explore and prove these benefits. Dig a little deeper and you learn just how deep rooted music is in science, maths and all other academic subjects schools put so much emphasis on. And yet the arts aren’t considered as important somehow. Again, a simple google search will bring up numerous articles written by people who feel passionately about this subject and the political arguments fired either way.

As a music student I learnt the science behind the psychoacoustics of sound, the maths behind the construction and composition of a score, and the history of music and it’s composers.

As a music enthusiast I learnt about music psychology, music performance and the many life skills that are learnt and absorbed through it, and music appreciation.

But as a music teacher I get to see first-hand the effects music can have on people. I’ve taught students as young as three, who can’t yet read or write, don’t know their alphabet, and can just about count up to 10 on their fingers. But they’ve learnt how to read a score, understand notation and rhythm, and can associate symbols on a page and can translate that into making sounds on an instrument. One particular girl could draw a treble clef before she could write the letter A and could decipher the relationship between quavers, crotchets etc before she could work out 1+1 and hadn’t even heard of division or fractions. She even understands basic Italian terms. She is creative and therefore at an advantage for the rest of her life.

I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.

– Plato

At the other end of the scale, I’ve taught older people still in work or retired people, who have either never played a note before, or used to play and want to come back to music. These people are rarely interested in taking exams or following a set curriculum, they are there simply to enjoy making music. The most common response adults give me when they hear that I teach is “oh, I wish I’d learnt how to play an instrument”. Their next sentence being “I’m too old now”. In a survey taken by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, playing a musical instrument was ranked second on the list of things UK adults would like to learn with, beaten only by cooking/baking. Singing came in fourth behind leaning a language. The same report showed that only half of these people would be willing to take a course in their chosen subject – this figure rising to 60% in 25-34 year olds. You can see the BBC report here

This research supports the “I’m too old” thought wave that many adults have, when actually, age has nothing to do with your ability to engage in the things that would make you happy. Music is many things besides educational. It is social, good for de-stressing, releases endorphins into the brain that gives you a natural high, and simply listening to certain genres of music can ease pain and even improve your sleep quality. In short, it is good for both your physical and mental health! My older students often say to me they will go and sit at a piano just to relax and to have time out their day to do something enjoyable. They bring me endless pieces of music that they want to learn, pieces they’ve heard and questions that they have about all sorts of things to do with music. An adult’s brain is that much more inquisitive and their ability to comprehend more complex things means that they progress a lot faster than they expect to and I love teaching them and encourage them to keep asking questions.

You are never too old or too young to engage in music. Your voice is a free of charge instrument you can use. Join a band, or a choir, or have lessons on an instrument you’ve always wanted to learn. Stick the radio on in the car and listen to new music or find an album of someone you’ve never heard of. Try out new things and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be creative and enjoy the benefits you will get from it!

Why Music?

Music is a science
Music is mathematical|
Music is a foreign language
Music is physical education
Music develops insight and demands research
Music is all of these things, but most of all, music is art.
That is why we teach music.
Not because we expect you to major in music
Not because we expect you to play or sing all your life
But so you will be human
So you will recognise beauty
So you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world
So you will have something to cling to
So you will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good
In short, more Life.
That is why we teach music.

-Unknown author