Learning Music: Proficiency and Beyond
Published on: November 11, 2021
If you have ever wondered whether to enrol your child in music lessons, this article by piano teacher Cindy can help you understand the various benefits of learning music, the best age to start, and what to keep in mind when looking for a teacher.
By Thita (Cindy) Dumrongchanawong
Many parents send their child to learn music to gain special expertise. However, learning music is not just about proficiency alone. There are many other benefits beyond that.
Systematic thinking and memory
Playing music requires systematic thinking, which starts with reading notes on the grand staff. Memory is also crucial as children need to remember and apply pitch, rhythm, and other musical theories. All these processes help in developing the child’s brain and systematic thinking through regular practice.
Improved body coordination
Body parts work together simultaneously while playing music. For example, when playing the piano, the eyes will be used to read notes which the brain will process. The thinking process will be conveyed through the fingers, which requires proper sitting posture, correct hand movements, and the correct arm and elbow positions. Once the sound comes out, the ears will perceive its accuracy. Some songs are more complex than others as they require additional foot pedals. As you can see, numerous parts of the body are used while playing the piano, and coordination is needed to connect each of these parts together.
Fine motor development
In order to play musical instruments well, children need to have good fine motor skills. Proper training while learning an instrument helps to develop these skills, and once the strength of the child’s fingers increases, they will be able to play music better with the right rhythm.
Playing music has no fixed rules, so when children gain a certain level of musical knowledge and a certain level of understanding after they have begun learning, they may be able to start mixing various notes together and composing songs by themselves. At this point they will enjoy their creativity and take great pride in what they can do.
Patience and self-responsibility
To play music well, studying in a class alone is not enough. During the class, teachers may usually focus on new theories and song techniques, but it’s very important that children practice after the class to master new songs. A proper routine will also make them understand that to achieve something, effort and responsibility are important.
The best time to start learning music
Any parent can tell you that children have a connection with music from birth. Between the ages of one and two, a child begins to clap and understand rhythm, shake instruments, and sing.
By the time a child is three to four years old, their fine motor skills have developed to a certain extent. They will be able to begin playing basic instruments using their fingers, such as the piano. Generally, children have not yet learned to read by this age, but this is not a problem. Reading skills are not a prerequisite for music lessons. In fact, studies have shown that learning music from a young age actually helps the development of literacy skills.
Based on my own observations of teaching music to children, five is the best age to start learning various musical instruments such as piano, violin, guitar, drums, and vocal music. Research also suggests that musical training around this time builds stronger connections in the brain, which helps children to develop both physically and mentally properly.
Learning music in the new normal
Learning music is no different from learning academic subjects as the learning can be done either in person or online. Even when the class is online, highly experienced teachers have techniques and resources to engage the child and help them focus on the lesson despite the class not being in person.
How to choose a music teacher
Music teachers have different teaching techniques and styles. Therefore, it is important to consider goals and teaching styles that best suit the learner.
If the goal is to play for enjoyment, parents should approach a teacher who is not heavily focused on theory but rather on psychological development. Communicating your goal as soon as you approach a potential teacher will help determine whether or not they are the right fit. Teachers should also possess abilities to adjust teaching styles to match the preferences of children.
If the goal is to study for exams or for a future career, stricter teachers will be a proper match. Teachers need to carefully design a plan and steps to achieve more serious goals.
Photos courtesy of the author.
Anderson, N. (2018) Rhythms and Reading: How Music Helps Teach Kids Literacy Skills. Available online at: https://www.amusictherapy.com/post/2018/12/07/rhythms-and-reading-how-music-helps-teach-kids-literacy-skills
First 5 LA (2013) Child Development 101: Early Music Lessons Boost Brain Development. Available online at: https://www.first5la.org/article/child-development-101-early-music-lessons-boost-brain-development/
Li, H. (2021) Piano Education of Children Using Musical Instrument Recognition and Deep Learning Technologies Under the Educational Psychology. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8483247/#B28
Innis, G. (2013) Music in early childhood has a direct link to learning readiness. Available online at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/music_in_early_childhood_has_a_direct_link_to_reading_readiness
About the Author
Thita Dumrongchanawong (Cindy) is the CEO of Bangkok Pianist and Thai Pianist and has 15 years of piano-teaching experience. For more details, visit www.thaipianist.com or www.bangkokpianist.com or contact them via Line or Whatsapp.
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