Buying for kids is a paradox. On the one hand, kids are easily entertained and most are pretty up front about what they want for their birthday or holiday gifts. At the same time, their tastes change constantly and, as they get older, figuring out what is cool and what isn’t gets harder and harder. Plus, you want to give them something they will love and that will actually be useful, not something they will play with for ten minutes and then toss in a corner. So this year, why not give the kids in your life the gift of music?
Thanks to the internet, setting up music lessons is much simpler than it used to be. Now you can log on to sites like LessonRating.com and find out who is teaching what instruments in your neighborhood. Along with what other students and parents thought of their teaching ability. You can even hire people to teach over the internet itself. So really it’s not a matter of whether or not you can. It’s why you should.
Learning Music is Brain Food
We all know that listening to music can be good for your mental, emotional and even physical health. What we’re learning now is that learning to play an instrument is even more beneficial for a person’s cognitive and emotional abilities. This is true no matter how old you are, but has proven especially important for young brains that are still forming.
Even without all of the science that backs this up--studies that prove children who learn to play instruments are better at academia than those who don’t, students who play instruments are better able to process emotional challenges than those who don’t, etc--think about all of the ways music engages the brain. At it’s core, music is about math, physics, mental memory, emotional/non-verbal communication, and muscle memory. All of these skills are useful even outside of the lesson room.
Music is Being Devalued
In spite of how important everyone knows music is, music programs are being defunded all over the country. Some schools do away with their music programs entirely. Budget cuts force educators to choose between STEM programs and the arts and somehow, the arts are always deemed less important. This means that, without your intervention, your kids or grandkids might not have the opportunity to learn anything about music beyond what they hear on Spotify or on TV.
Even if your school district has a basic music program, it’s good to expand that education on your own. Learning an instrument teaches kids discipline and commitment in ways that they might not ever learn in a traditional classroom setting.
Active Vs. Passive
You’ve probably heard that video games are better for kids than simply sitting and watching television. They are better because they engage the child and encourage them to be active and to literally participate in the story that unfolds in the game.
It is also true that learning to play music is better than simply sitting around and listening to it. Learning to play an instrument is active and helps kids feel a sense of accomplishment that they won’t get from simply listening to a favorite playlist while they do their homework.
Finally, learning to play an instrument teaches your kids a skill that they will have for the rest of their lives. They might not ever become a professional musician, but even being able to pick up and noodle around on an instrument can be fun. And, you never know--you might ignite a fire that helps them to become the next Yo Yo Ma or the next Aretha Franklin! So this year, why not give a gift that literally keeps on giving: give your kids the gift of music!