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What Happens in the Mind of a Toddler When They Play Musical Instruments

What Happens in the Mind of a Toddler When They Play Musical Instruments 1

In recent years, some psychologists have been focused on the minds of children. For a long time, the focus was only on adults; however, every adult was once a child. Therefore, understanding the minds of children will aid in understanding the minds of adults. Also, understanding children will help them learn and grow into healthy adults. One thing that psychologists have been focusing on lately is musical instruments.

Teaching Music to Children

Children are born with the innate ability to discern different types of sounds. It’s important for survival that they can recognize the voices of their caretakers and react to loud noises. Since children can discern different types of sounds, they can also recognize music. You’ll notice that if you play music around your child or talk to them; even a newborn responds to music. That means that you can help them develop their brains by introducing them music as soon as they’re born.

You should be careful that the music isn’t too loud, but there’s basically no bad time to introduce children to music. The benefits of teaching music to newborns doesn’t become apparent until about age two. Some research has found that learning any set of skills, especially physical tasks with mental elements can benefit a child. Learning to cook is a common example; however, this article will focus on the childhood cognitive benefits of learning an instrument.     `

The Benefits

Research has found that children who are taught music by age two begin to develop differently than other children. They develop faster, have higher IQs, and build better language skills. A seminal study was conducted by the University of Toronto. Researchers gave nine months, one full school year, of music lessons to six-year olds. They also had a control group that did not receive lessons. After the school year of instruction, those that took the music lessons averaged three points higher in IQ tests. -Kids can have different tastes in instruments too. Though many are attracted to learning the piano first, some start with a ukulele or a guitar. Drums are also a common choice as you only need to start with a drum practice pad. If you don’t know what that looks like, check this link: https://musiccritic.com/equipment/drums/best-drum-practice-pad

Different studies have also found different brain pathways, better temporal and spatial awareness, and better grades. These benefits have been observed in children after as little as six months of study. Many people want to help their kids grow and develop in these ways but they don’t have access to music teachers. Fortunately, the 21st century offers more opportunities than parents have ever had. For example, Guitar Fella offers reviews of many different kinds of online guitar lessons. You can search through their website to find guitar lessons that will fit your child.

Most studies are about piano lessons, though. Would guitar lessons offer your child similar benefits?

Do Guitar Lessons Offer the Cognitive Benefits?

Most studies of children’s cognitive benefits are based on piano lessons because piano is a cornerstone of musical compositions. Pianos have ranges of keys, notes, and can adapt almost any musical composition. However, they’re expensive and heavy. Also, not every child is excited by piano. So, any type of musical instruction will be beneficial; the most important musical instruction is the one that your child will stick to. So, if your kid enjoys playing piano, that’s great. If your child likes to play the flute, that’s great too. The benefits of musical instruction tend to be independent of the instrument itself. So, to answer the question of the efficacy of guitar versus piano, you must understand how the brain responds to musical lessons.

Many of the benefits of musical education come from the fact that learning music is basically the same as learning another language. A child has to learn how to read and translate the written musical notation. That’s the first step. Learning new languages has been proven to create new connections and new neural pathways in a child’s brain.

These pathways increase activity in language centers, decision making centers, and creativity centers. Furthermore, the child has to remember what each notation means and then pairs that with the sound that it makes. That’s a considerable amount of memory. Since the brain is like a muscle, exercising the memory in that way has been shown to improve memory for years to come. Researchers recently found that those who had studied music as children had improved language and executive functioning skills.

Furthermore, every instrument pairs the language aspect of the written music with the sheer physicality of playing the instrument. In that respect, a guitar might actually offer more benefits than piano, though they are both comparable. The child has to learn how to physically produce each sound that is marked on the page. Along with sports, music has been shown to improve hand-eye coordination. Also, spatial awareness is improved because the tolerances tend to be very low in music. If your fingers are off by a few inches when playing a piano, you’ll play a drastically wrong note. However, you can’t afford to keep looking down at your fingers; you have to just know where your fingers are in space. That’s incredibly difficult for a child, but they’ll learn it over time. In fact, children’s pliable brains probably learn it faster than an adult would.

With those benefits in mind, it becomes clear that guitar lessons might differ in their approach to cognitive development in some ways. However, the benefits are largely the same. Both guitar and piano music are written, which grants the child the benefits of learning a new language. They’re both played with two hands at once and have very low tolerances for error. When combined with the rhythmic aspects of playing music, all of the temporal and spatial benefits exist for guitar lessons.

The pathways that are created by playing music tend to stick with the child for years to come.

The Mind of an Adult

Some randomized trials have not found the same benefits for toddlers who study music. However, the very same studies have found that aging adults have better cognition and lower rates of mental decline if they took music lessons as children. Even decades after their last guitar or piano lesson, they’re still reaping benefits from studying. It seems that those studies would confirm that childhood improvements in executive functioning, language, and memory are very long-lasting. Those are, after all, the areas that decline the most significantly as you age.

Written by Steven Wynne

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