Why We Have Our Kids Learn an Instrument

by GfG on March 6, 2012 · 8 comments

{insert  piano rendition of  “Parade of the Doodle Bugs” here… again… and again… and again… and again… and again… and again}

Back when we first thought through our educational philosophy, we decided that music lessons would be required for at least two years for each kiddo.  We weren’t going to seek making them Mozarts,  but piano lessons and practice were on the lesson plans just as math was.  We believed then and still do now that it was important for their brain.

What are the benefits in taking music lessons? 

When we studied anatomy last year with Apologia, I was able to share the reasons for piano lessons with my children.  Learning to play piano puts the brain to work in special ways.   A person has to use both hemisphere as well as several lobes of the brain to play music, not just listen to it.  Neural connections are made in complex ways.  Google it.

For Faith, this aspect of school is even more important.  Because she has learning struggles, we believe having her take piano lessons is helping her make strides she can not do at the school table.  It’s giving her tutoring in a way that is completely different, but just as effective, if not more so.   Research is finding that learning to play music has benefits across the academic spectrum.

Is forcing our children to do something if they don’t want to do it wrong?

I don’t think so.  If it’s good for them, no.  I make them eat their vegetables.  They have to learn math.  They must bathe (with soap, even).  It’s my responsibility to raise them and a part of that is deciding what’s best for them.

That doesn’t mean I make them take piano forever, just until the basics of the skill are accomplished, then the benefits are met and appreciation may take over.

What if they aren’t “talented”?

A couple of our kiddos are musically talented, a couple of them aren’t, and a couple of them still remain to be seen, but they will all take two years of piano.  If they are gifted and appreciate the lessons (and we can afford to keep them in), then they can continue.

What other benefits are there?

One of the reasons we started HB at the age we did was that we felt she needed to learn a few lessons.  First, she needed to know that all things don’t come at first try.  Academics came easy to her about 95% of the time, but when they didn’t… she was very upset.  She needed to understand that sometimes we have to work at a skill and that does not mean we are not smart.  Also, she needed to see that she could persevere in a difficult task.  We are not sports minded, so piano lessons were a way to grasp the concept of perseverance. Thirdly, an appreciation for music in general as well as musicians is developed by having to take lessons yourself.   Lastly, if this is a talent, then we could be encouraging a life-long pursuit or a career (and maybe even a Proverbs 31 style income for our daughters).

How do you afford lessons? 

I know it’s a sacrifice, financially.  Truly, I know.  God has always provided the money for lessons and even provided a piano, free for us!   Another time, we have been able to trade a flute given to us for lessons.  I have many stories of provision from parents who believe in the benefits of music.  I’m not saying God will bring you a free piano, ok?  Eeeek!  I don’t need that on me.       ;-)

But I am saying that if you believe it to be important, you’ll find a way to make it happen.  You might even be blessed in the journey.  It might not come as soon as you like, but it will happen.

As Cutie Pie joined the rank of piano students at the end of February, I couldn’t help but smile.  I watch her read the notes, move her fingers and struggle to have the different parts of her brain working together and know that her mind is really working.   It makes me happy to know the synapses are firing and neurons connecting.  I don’t know where she’ll fall in the “talented ” aspect, but I know she’s building her brain and that’s what matters to me.

I remind myself of these benefits when “Parade of the Doodlebugs” plays again and again.     ;-)

If music lessons are not a part of your kiddos’ lives, I challenge you to rethink that.

Leaning to play music is good for the brain.  Period.

 

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Thyme March 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

In our church the first Sunday of every month we invite members to go up to the pulpit and bear their testimony of the gospel. No lie, EVERY single month there are people who say that they wished they had learned to play the piano.

My husband and I decided when Sydney was a little baby that we would have all of our children take piano lessons as part of school. From Kindergarten until 12th grade. Yes, it’s a bit harsh, and if they truly hate it we might have a longer discussion. My husband took piano lessons for a few years and became interested in fencing so he quit to smack people with swords, and now he wishes his parents hadn’t let him do that (although he still loves fencing.)

I think sticking with an instrument teaches persistence and good work ethic, sticking with something that you don’t particularly like doing but doing it anyway is a GOOD thing. Too many people quit jobs because “they aren’t fun.”

And if my kids don’t love to play piano, they’ll still have the option when they are adults to play for their families during family night ;)

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GfG March 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

:-)
Two years has been longer than some have “wanted”, but we had them do it for the reasons I shared and they learned so much about themselves. We believe it helped them in ways they can’t understand yet. That’s part of
parenting too.

Princess was just “released” after 3 years. She can play well and she will still walk by and play every once in awhile. I’m curious to see if she picks it up again

HB is now taking voice and is loving it.

Music lessons have blessed our family in more ways than originally expected. Including family devotion times and even home holiday services. :-)

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Thyme March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Like I said, it’s all theoretical right now as our oldest is only 4.5 ;) If she wanted to change for a different musical instrument (voice included) we would definitely consider it.

I love your timing, btw, we are picking up our piano tomorrow and then rearranging out living room so that it’ll fit, lol!

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GfG March 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Oh, I wasn’t trying to correct you or challenge your decision. I was just sharing. HB took piano for four years, I believe. She just started voice. She says (just this minute, actually) that she didn’t like it then, but now she’d take them just because she likes them. :-)

Now we start the kids once they can read. We also have a woman who comes to the house, which is a serious gift!

Fun! Do you play?

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Thyme March 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Oh, I know you weren’t! I just wanted to make sure you knew that I’m not totally unreasonable :)

We have a close family friend who will be coming over to our place to teach Sydney, which I’m really looking forward to! If that hadn’t worked out (or this family moves out of state, which they probably will in a few years) she would have taken lessons at the same place she takes dance lessons at. They have dance/theatre/piano/voice/etc. Which is pretty awesome, because then she could take it while her sister was doing dance or something.

I wish I could play. I took a semester in college, and could probably pick back up what I knew, but I wasn’t that good at it. It was a lot of fun though! I could never figure out how play with my left hand.

Neither my husband nor I are what you would call “artistic” by any stretch of the imagination. My husband feels very strongly about our kids taking music and/or art lessons, he wants them to have a creative outlet. He feels that he doesn’t have one and it frustrates him.

Me? I’m satisfied with rereading an amazing book. ;)

AnnetteQ March 7, 2012 at 7:51 am

All three of our kiddos take piano for many of the same reasons you listed, plus I was never encouraged in music by my own folks. I have been amazed to see their love of music explode! The 7 y/o now also plays accordion, ha! My big girl (12) plays flute at school, and has chosen to continue piano. Our child with learning issues has not only caught up to grade level, but is steaming ahead in reading and math. What a blessing for us all!

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Mary March 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I agree 110%. I am a former music educator (now homeschooling mom) and music is a non negotiable in our homeschool. I’m finding it’s good for the SOUL and the brain.

I appreciated your post!

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mideastmom April 4, 2012 at 9:54 am

On my to-do list. Now that we’re in the city, our options have opened up, and I really want to make this happen.

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