Benefits of Band

Can my child succeed at music?  You should feel confident that – armed with a proper instrument, consistent practice habits, and a sense of motivation – your child can succeed at playing a musical instrument – and have a great time all the while!


Research increasingly shows that music can not only help your child develop “life skills” such as self-discipline, teamwork, self-esteem and self-expression, it can also assist in his or her intellectual development.  Studying music, it seems, can make you smarter.  Here are some of the most recent findings:


In a study of the effects of music education, researchers . . . found that children who received [music] instruction scored 34% higher than non-musical children on tests designed to measure spatial-temporal reasoning – a skill that’s critical for learning subjects such as math, engineering and science.


In one study conducted on elementary school students and eighth graders, students who participated in some type of music education program . . . improved their math ability across the board.


Scientists believe that when students develop the types of mental processing needed to make music, they literally “stretch” the brain, teaching it new skills that it can then apply to other areas of endeavor.


According to researchers . . . music lessons in childhood can actually enlarge a key part of the brain.  MRI’s revealed that the area of the cortex that analyses and responds to musical pitch is up to 25% larger in musicians than in those who never studied music.  What’s more, the younger the musicians were when they began their music studies, the bigger this area of the brain appears to be.


Research on the effects of music education on student achievement . . . found that students who took part in instrumental or choral music had higher grade point averages than those who did not.


There is strong evidence to suggest that music study can boost students’ SAT scores.  According to 1997 statistics, test-takers with music performance experience scored 52 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 37 points higher on the math portion than those without it.  The longer students studied music, the higher their scores were.


Admissions officers at 70% of the nation’s major universities have said they look for achievement in the arts when considering applicants.


Participating in band also gets young people involved with others.  Playing together creates a feeling of camaraderie that often extends beyond the band room, opening up a whole new world of friendships.  Your child also learns about teamwork and how being part of a group carries certain responsibilities.  When one student forgets his instrument or fails to practice, for instance, the whole band suffers.  Knowing that others are relying on you and you on them fosters a feeling of belonging – of being an essential part of something bigger than oneself – which can help increase a child’s self-confidence.


But you can be sure that the majority of students taking part in school bands all across America aren’t doing it because it’s good for them; they’re doing it because it’s fun!  And whether your child ultimately goes into a music-related profession or simply plays in the band for one or two years, he or she will have gained enormously from the experience.


By joining band, your child will be taking the first step along the path to music-making.  As a parent, you can help by remembering the following rules.


 (Taken from a publication titled, “Getting the Most Out of Your Child’s Band or Orchestra Experience, the Parent’s Guide,”  Windplayer Publications, 1999.)

Rule #1:  Don’t worry if you have no musical background yourself.  What your child needs from you is not musical expertise but patience, encouragement and support.


Rule #2:  Don’t worry about whether your child has “talent.”  Thousands of kids with no special talent take part in – and enjoy – soccer, softball, and other activities.  In the same way, any child can take part in and enjoy band.

Rule #3:  Expect your child to succeed.  Learning to play an instrument is not easy.  Your child may be momentarily disappointed to discover that he or she is not instantly a great musician, but even third-graders can understand that music, like many subjects, takes time.  Most children can deal with the learning process as long as they feel they’re making some progress.

Rule #4:  Remember that every musician develops at his or her own pace.  As long as your child continues to enjoy band, chances are that he is doing fine.  If progress seems to be stalled, your child may have simply hit a temporary plateau, or he may be having difficulty grasping a basic concept.  In any of these circumstances, try talking to your child and to the band director to see how the problem can be resolved.

Rule #5:  Even the most ardent young musician needs a nudge sometimes.  Stay in touch with what your child is learning and encourage him to give you a “concert” at home from time to time.  Expose your child to all kinds of music – not because it’s “good for him,” but because it’s interesting and fun.  Show your support by attending all concerts, no matter how busy your schedule, and encourage other family members to do the same.  There’s no better way to show that you think music-making is worthwhile and that you’re proud of your child’s achievement.