Albert Einstein’s teacher told his parents that he was ‘stupid’ and incapable of learning, because of his inability to take test and pass grades. Sadly he was labelled and pre judged as a child, but in time began to study a musical instrument. Years later Albert credited his genius to the violin. Whenever he would struggle working on a formula, the answer would come to him while playing his violin. Whilst we have come a long way in identifying children’s strengths and areas of development, it just highlights a very important message; that we are all individuals who learn in different ways.
Research indicates that learning is reflected in certain brain functions. The left hemisphere of the brain is the reasoning side, connected with language. The right hemisphere of the brain is the creative side. Early musical training has shown that when a person sings or plays a musical instrument, both hemispheres of the brain are required to work together. A good example is when we link familiar songs to new information which can also help imprint information on young minds.
Playing music formats the brain for orderly storage and recovery of information. Studies show that if a student practices music for one hour in the morning, the brain is formatted for better storage and recovery of that data for most of the day, so not only are we learning but we are also storing valuable information.
But more importantly music provides young children with a means of self-expression, especially those that may be shy in temperament or quiet in disposition. Music allows expression and in due course will build confidence, which will promote self esteem, coupled with learning a new skill set.
As children progress with the skill, we can also look at other benefits. Music can enhance teamwork and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal and performance, and in order to perform well, must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing and lots of repetition These are all life lessons in working together for the common good. It focuses on “doing,” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, which is universal almost anywhere in the world. As children graduate to the working world, employers often look for multi-dimensional workers who can demonstrate the flexibility and intellect that a music education can help create. In the music environment, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another as a team.
So having looked at the bigger picture, how can you as parents help develop your young children’s brains when it comes to music? Well, first and foremost, make it fun, fun, fun! We were created to make music and we can begin in the early years with our babies and toddlers. Singing and playing can be a part of our every day routine and it’s so easy to sing along with your children or find some creative utensils at home to allow children to experience creating noise and experimenting with sounds. I am sure we can all recall how many hours of enjoyment the banging of the wooden spoon against the pan brought! If your children are already older, they can still begin lessons as soon as possible. You are never too old to try a new skill!
Here at Circus we introduced the ukulele as it was a smaller instrument that children could comfortably hold and experiment with. Children can strum away at the chords and more importantly make sounds they create. Not only that but it has many benefits which we would like to share with you. We also found an amazing and very inspiring musician and teacher, Sarah Kelly who promotes this very philosophy and has kindly put together a list of the benefits to children playing ukulele. We are all thoroughly enjoying the lessons at Ciruus and as a bonus the teaching takes place in the outdoor classroom overlooking the beautiful garden. We are having so much fun that the children want to put on their very own performance and ‘show off’ their new talents. And who know’s, we may have another Einstein in the making!