The Magic that is Musical Education
The education systems of industrialised countries put a great deal of importance into learning maths, language and science. Each student needs to perform in a certain way to be considered adequately prepared for his/her life and a useful asset to society.
There is a bit of music, arts and physical education, but these are considered side subjects, to bring a bit of colour into the child's week. They are not considered important topics and if someone is particularly good at the arts it is generally not important enough to put a lot of effort into supporting such a talent within the school. This is a matter of funding of course. And money goes where investment is considered worth it.
Where the education system goes wrong is that it doesn't consider musical education worth it. Considering all the research out there that shows the incredible benefits to the development of the brain and mental health, it is mind boggling why they would't have an hour dedicated to music and the arts every single day at school.
Considering musical education a top priority is not a matter of taste, opinion or even talent.
An argument could be made that musical education could indeed be the fundamental tool to foster better learning of every other subject on the list. A study at North western university found that "children that regularly attended music classes and actively participated showed larger improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores".
But that's not all. Musical education has the largest variety of benefits, some of which we want to show you here.
1) Ultimate Brain Workout
We have mentioned this in one of our previous blogs before, that playing an instrument is basically like a full body workout for your brain. If you scan the brain while the person is playing an instrument it will look like a firework of activity in all parts of the brain, unseen by any other activity before.
2) Develops Motor Skills
The continuous practice of techniques increases muscles, flexibility and mobility in the parts of the body used for the instruments. In addition there is a lot of coordination required when playing various instruments. Your left and right side doing different things simultaneously is the ultimate practice in coordination.
3) Mental and Emotional Health Benefits
Studies have shown that music releases the feel-good chemical, dopamine, when listening and playing music, causing us to simply feel better. As used in meditation or in spas, music has a calming effect on the mind even when you just listen to it. If you are playing yourself it ads another dimension to how the brain is brought into focus. The playing and focus on the instrument acts like meditation practice in itself.
4) Language Skills
Learning and instrument and learning a new language, require the same parts of the brain, science has discovered. Music and language have similar complex cognitive systems and core characteristics and both share the same "design features", as explained in the Oxford handbook of music psychology.The same also explains how the strong relationship between the two becomes evident in the "overlapping neurophysiological, perceptual, and cognitive resources underlying this relationship". It has been shown then, that people involved with music, particularly those playing an instrument, have the tendency to easier learn foreign languages, for example, and in younger children drastically improves their verbal skills.
Yes, music also helps you be better at math. Isn't that something. We often think that natural sciences and the art are unrelated but never think that they actually compliment each other beautifully. So while you may not become a math over achiever just because you're learning to play the violin, the fact remains that playing an instrument involves using fractions and relying on ratios for example. The brain therefore needs to use the same parts of the brain that it needs for mathematics and will in return help the brain process mathematical problems easier.
6) Memory and Concentration
You practice your pieces, you are fully concentrated on one thing and you are memorising the sequences of your notes, every single time you play. You are continuously training these aspects of your brain so those learning an instrument will find it easier to use these skills elsewhere in their lives as well.
7) Self Esteem Confidence
As with any skill you acquire it makes you feel great. You are master of an instrument, you perform beautiful music and inspire awe among your peers. Particularly for children and teenagers, this can be a massive support in how they grow up to see themselves and their self worth. But this is also true for adults. Any time in your life, you could decide to pick up an instrument and learn, and you are guaranteed to feel so much better about yourself.
Why then is musical education sidelined as "a hobby" and extra curriculum activity, when it seems to be the ultimate tool for better overall education and development? We don't know and it just seems to be one of those things where the system has its priorities wrong.
The science is there and cultures reaching back to the ancient greeks and beyond have understood the importance that music plays in our lives.
Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful.
The education systems may not take action on this. But as individuals we can! And at Guitarwaze we're making this as easy as it can get by bringing you a platform that will allow you to learn, whenever, wherever! The launch is imminent! Tune up and stay tuned!