According to Plato, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Music is used for dramatic effect on the soundtracks of TV, movies, video games, apps, video blogs. You may sing with your children at bedtime. It will accompany you in malls and hotels. You may actively choose to listen to it live or ask Alexa to select something to suit your mood. Whether consciously or not, everybody is exposed to music every day, even if they don’t choose to be!
Engaging actively with music has been found to promote psychological wellbeing in infants, children, adults and beyond. It is well-known that listening to and participating in music can increase levels of dopamine (the ‘feel-good’ hormone) and reduce levels of cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone) which probably explains why music is one of the most popular hobbies throughout all age groups.
The list of positive impacts that formal musical training can have on our children reads like the improbable wish-list of every new parent: improved neurological function, auditory skills that contribute to language and literary development, significantly augmented aural memory and retention abilities, enhanced skills in certain elements of Maths (such as fractions and sequencing) and increased IQ scores.
Academic success aside, there are many other skills in evidence with trained musicians who participate in regular formal practice – sustained attention spans, use of working and long-term memory, cognitive challenge and fine motor skills. Being part of a choir, an orchestra or music class creates a social bond, supporting collaborative learning, teamwork, cooperation and a sense of belonging, amongst other things. Just ask King’s Concert Choir after their recent competition success!
Research has shown that the neurological, intellectual and social benefits of playing a musical instrument improve with 1. the frequency in which we practice 2. the quality of the training and 3. the age we start playing – the earlier the better.
As a music teacher to students aged 3 to 13, I am lucky enough to help share the magic of making music with young children and their families every day. For me, there couldn’t be a more rewarding job!
Music at King’s: We are fortunate at King’s to have an excellent and enthusiastic team of music teachers who believe in the community spirit of music, and we provide regular opportunities for children to engage in music throughout the school week. See the school’s website for details of their music provision.
Hallam, S. (2015) The Power of Music, London: The Music Education Council.
Young, S. (2018) Critical New Perspectives in Early Childhood Music, London: Routledge.
Young, S. (2009) Music: 3 – 5, London: Routledge.
This article is supplied to Marhaba by Kings College Doha. The author of the article is Helen Granger.