Music Study as Pleasure, Education, and even Therapy

Some parents shy away from or abandon piano or music lessons for their children because they don't want to insist that their children practise.  The reality is that while making music is pleasurable, music study is education requiring discipline and work.   In most cases, these same parents are unaware of the opportunities for cognitive development that music study and regular practice bring.   Anita Collins is leading the charge to change this and she presents a compelling argument regarding why music education should be a part of every child's education from birth.   She cites many studies that show how music study, more than any other activity, improves executive functioning, language, and overall IQ.  She believes that music education is essential and on a personal note, believes it was instrumental in helping her to overcome her own issues with learning to read as a child.

I thought I would share some facts relating to this from my piano studio:

Over 90% of students in my studio come from families who view music study as education as well as a source of pleasure.  These parents do not wonder about whether they should encourage their children to practise or not.  They view it as they do math homework - something that must be done to facilitate learning.   

Over 90% of the students who have parents that don't insist that their children practise even a little bit quit before any appreciable music knowledge has been acquired.  The simple truth is that progress is almost non-existent without practise even among highly talented individuals.  

Over 90% of young students lack the discipline to make practise happen on their own.  Among those few students who are self-driven when it comes to practise, most will have times when even they have trouble mustering up the desire to practise.   Many students also engage in sports such as karate, gymnastics, figure skating, baseball, soccer and hockey and in all these cases practice is directed by coaches.  Parents need to ask themselves if their children would practise these activities if they had to do so solely on their own.  My hope is that parents will embrace the role of "coach" for their children when it come to music study.  Some parents may feel uncomfortable with this role assuming that they lack the required musical knowledge.  While musical knowledge is helpful in this regard, parents can still be effective coaches of their children even when their musical knowledge is limited and most certainly, a piano teacher can guide you in how to coach your child between lessons.  Here are a few basic things that a parent can do on the road to becoming an effective coach:

  • Establish a daily regular practise routine for your child and stick to it.
  • Review the weekly piano lesson assignments with your child right after the lesson but no later than the next day.
  • Sit in on the piano lesson.  This is especially effective for young children.  My studio is always open to parents.
  • Sit with your child while he/she practises to see that he/she is following the teacher's instructions.  How often a parent will need to do this is really dependent on the age and the individual needs of the child in question.
Examinations, recitals, competitions,  creating music videos to share publicly, and gig nights motivate students to practise. Each time such an event approaches in my studio there is a dramatic increase in the level of practise.  These events are effective at stimulating the desire to practise because they are goal oriented.  

The use of educational games in my music studio to teach music skills has been invaluable in stimulating both interest and learning on the part of my students.

In conclusion, please enjoy the Anita Collins Video below.  I really think she presents a compelling case for having every child engage in music study.

Anita Collins:  What if every child had music instruction from birth?