Sure, we all love the sweet sounds of music. But you know what’s even sweeter? When that music is being created by our little ones. And when we think about the health benefits that come from learning to play an instrument, that sweetness could almost give us cavities! When children devote themselves to the study of music, the sky’s the limit for their personal growth and mental development. That’s why we created our list of the amazing benefits of kids’ learning to play an instrument. So with that in mind, let’s get right to it. And a 1 and a 2 and a….

Improved Coordination

First and foremost, let’s discuss the most important physical benefits of playing an instrument at a young age. Many parents use a variety of different toys and techniques to improve their child’s motor skills and coordination, but playing an instrument does both! A study from the University of Texas studied children that had played instruments and those who did not, and there was a drastic difference in their fine motor skills. The ability to simultaneously use different fingers in order to play a comprehensive piece of music greatly increases a child’s fine motor skills as well as their overall coordination. This is because playing an instrument forces the child to use their hands intentionally rather than at random. 

Reduced Anxiety

Creative hobbies such as learning to play an instrument have been known to help children who are suffering from anxiety. The self-expression aspect is known to bring better health and happiness as children are able to create something on their own. This could be from learning a new piece of music, or even better, writing one of their own. The only way to do this is to practice using an instrument and becoming skilled enough to express oneself through it. In addition, the act of taking time for oneself to learn to play an instrument allows the child to focus on something other than their anxiety and can become a healthy escape from life’s stresses. Also, the better they get, the more confidence they’ll have which will only improve their overall mental health!

Expanded Memory Skills

Our minds were never meant to be stagnant, and because of that, we should always strive to learn new things. Teaching a child at a young age to play musical instruments benefits their memory in numerous ways. First, they need to memorize sheet music in order to play songs that they have learned. They will also need to remember finger placements, and breathing techniques depending on the instrument they play. Studies have shown that people who play musical instruments have increased brain functions for essential cognitive skills such as focus and memory. Both of these are key for an improved memory capacity and playing instruments at a young age is proven to improve those parts of the brain. 

A Sharpened Mind

It has been demonstrated through research of adults that play instruments how much more focused and quick their minds are in comparison to those who do not. This goes hand in hand with what has been discussed earlier, that playing instruments opens parts of the brain that many do not have access to. Learning any skill creates new connections in the mind that were not originally there. Instruments are unique in that they not only increase the creative side of the brain, but also the intellectual side. You need both of these in order to keep your mind sharp for years to come. This is why we highly suggest that you get your child started playing musical instruments as early as possible so they can take advantage of all the benefits. 

Reduced Depression

We have seen an increase in depression among children over the last 5 years, and much of that can be attributed to the pandemic. The same study that showed a reduction in anxiety also saw a decrease in depressive thoughts. This is because therapeutic dynamics occur while playing an instrument, specifically guitar or piano. The repetitive motion of strumming and playing keys while learning a new song triggers the release of dopamine, which has now been nicknamed the “feel good” hormone. The more positive hobbies a child enjoys that release dopamine the better it is for their overall state of mind.

Increased Gray Matter

While this can be attributed to adults as well, we feel that the earlier a child can build connections in their brain the better. There was a study done where they saw a difference in brain structure in musicians versus non-musicians. It was seen mostly in the corpus callosum which is a collection of fibers that keep both sides of the brain connected. The areas that control hearing, movement, and visuospatial abilities were also largely improved in professional keyboard players, which is one of the great musical instruments for kids to get started on. It has been proven that there is a significant increase in the gray matter of people’s brains that play instruments when compared to those who do not. 

All of us at Coastal Kids Pediatrics believe that playing instruments, while also fun, can be extremely beneficial to the overall development and health of your child. The key is to make sure they enjoy it and want to practice on their own. Music lessons are a huge part of it, but without your child’s buy-in, they’ll be quick to drop it before they see the benefits of playing an instrument. We hope this helps guide you, to guide your little ones to pick up an instrument. Who knows? In a few years they might be headlining a concert for all of us to enjoy!