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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Whether or not your child has any artistic inclination at all, it’s never too early to introduce them to the magic of music. Giving your child the tools he or she needs to learn a musical instrument is a fun, affordable way to teach them a number of important skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives. These include discipline and motivation, personal responsibility, teamwork, perseverance and self-confidence or “inner strength.” Best of all, these skills are applicable to countless other aspects of modern life.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you played a musical instrument as a child, you probably remember times when you just didn’t want to practice. It’s likely that you did, though, at the insistence of your parents and music teachers. Looking back, it’s easy to see the disciplinary benefits of regular practice. Your child will grudgingly appreciate the routine of regular practice and will hopefully apply it to other areas of his or her life.

Remember Responsibility

Responsibility is closely correlated with discipline. Even if your child is naturally talented, they will find learning a musical instrument to be a frustrating process that requires the development of patience and an ethic of personal responsibility. These are practical considerations: If they don’t learn to be responsible for their own belongings, they’ll find themselves in trouble with their school band teacher after forgetting their instrument for the third time in a week!

Building a Team

Not everyone grows up to helm a rock band or orchestra, but your kid’s experience in the school band may teach them valuable lessons about working with others. Being a member of a band requires cooperation and the ability to sit still for fixed periods of time, both of which are important lifelong skills. It also teaches multi-tasking, which is increasingly important these days: Your child will simultaneously have to read their own instrument’s music and keep mental track of what the rest of the band is doing.

The Benefits of Sheet Music

No matter what instrument your child chooses to play he or she will need to learn how to read sheet music. Depending on their age, they may still be learning to read standard English, but that won’t stop them from readily absorbing this new “language.” In fact, it might even help their language-learning skills!

With its clefs, quarter and half-notes, rests and myriad annotations that each express a different musical idea, sheet music forces your child to learn a new alphabet and sentence structure as well as a new way of “speaking” through their instrument or voice. At first, they’ll be reading the music one note at a time, learning in a sequential process that improves their ability to concentrate and reinforces the importance of understanding a concept before moving on. As they begin to see and understand whole sequences of notes at once, they’ll use these skills to read English more fluently.

Teaching your child to play a musical instrument is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Not only will they be richly entertained for hours on end, they’ll develop several key skills that can be applied to numerous real-world situations. They’ll also grow as a person, taking increasing pride in their work as their ability improves.

Sam Negrete writes for several higher ed blogs. To read more about degrees in music education click here.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to learn with music.

Image courtesy of jesman via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.