Music fills most homes these days. Smart speakers make it convenient to play favorite songs with a verbal command. Even children can request favorite tunes with just a sentence aimed at the right device. But is simply playing favorite music—songs, whole albums, instrumentals, soundtracks from beloved movies and more—enough to gain all the benefits of music for children? Or should music be incorporated in multiple ways in the lives of kids to gain all its benefits?
Benefits of Music for Children
Kids can get sad, depressed or anxious from time to time or they may have ongoing issues with these mental health problems. Parents, caregivers and teachers may find that the health benefits of music for children can ease both temporary and chronic mental health problems.
Music can Lessen Anxiety and Depression in Children
Listening to and creating music can lower the level of cortisol—sometimes referred to as the flight or fight hormone—in the body, according to My Audio Sound. When cortisol decreases so can heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels, and children may feel less anxious or depressed.
Additionally, the sense of satisfaction a child gets from making music can boost their mood. Creating music by playing an instrument or simply making up lyrics to songs can increase levels of serotonin—a mood enhancing hormone.
Music Helps Children Explore Their Thoughts and Feelings
When used for therapeutic reasons, music helps children to explore their feelings. This is especially helpful for older children who sometimes might be self-conscious about expressing their emotions verbally. A child may latch on to a specific song because of its lyrics that express something they relate to.
A parent or caregiver who pays attention to the songs a child chooses over and over can start discussions about the lyrics. Those discussions can lead to shared experiences and closer connections, which are beneficial for a child’s mental health.
Music Assists Kids Process Trauma and Grief
One of the benefits of music on the brain is that it can help children process the difficult things that happen to them or around them. The current COVID-19 pandemic can be traumatic on children as their regular routines have been disrupted and they worry about people they love getting sick or dying. When the dangers of the virus have passed, a child’s trauma and grief may continue.
Listening to music, writing song lyrics and improvised instrument playing can help a child process immediate and lingering feelings. For example, Byron, a 10-year-old, composed his own song and directed his own music video during quarantine. Writing the lyrics helped him to process his feelings about quarantine and being a new virtual learner. He also wanted to share his experience with other kids to show them that they are not alone, by sharing a message that “we are one world.”
The Benefits of Music Lessons can Help a Child’s Mental Health
Poor grades in school can affect a child’s mental health. Time reports that learning to play an instrument is great for developing brains. When kids are actively engaged in learning to play music, it helps their brains process sounds they wouldn’t hear otherwise. Therefore, the benefits of early childhood music education aids in literacy, which in turn can aid in improved academic performance throughout their school years.
Physical Benefits of Music
The stress relief that comes with music definitely helps a child’s physical health, but there are additional physical benefits to making music a regular part of a child’s life.
Making Music can Keep Kids Healthier
There’s increasing scientific evidence, according to Live Science, that the benefits of music for children can go so far as to help ward off illness. Scientists are finding that music enhances immunological response, which in turn helps to fight viruses.
Playing Instruments Gets Muscles Moving
Here’s one of the benefits of music education that isn’t often considered. While it may not lead to the type of physical activity that sports does (unless a child ends up in marching band), holding up an instrument during practice and performance makes good use of arm and back muscles. It can also improve posture.
Benefits of Music in Education
In addition to increasing literacy, there are plenty of other benefits of music for a child’s education. There’s one that may be more important than all the rest, especially as students get older.
Music keeps many kids engaged in school. Being involved in music may be the reason some kids enjoy school, particularly kids who may have difficulty in their core academic subjects. And, when kids get to their teen years, being involved in music or other artistic activities may be the one thing that keeps those same students in school.
Making Music Fun for Kids
It’s clear that fostering a love for music at home has many benefits for children both in the home and at school. Making music fun will go a long way in getting kids to embrace music education, and playing games centered around music can bring the fun.
Board games such as Maestro Mastery can teach music literacy while also working on other skills such as memory. The game, which is much like Concentration, features 52 composers ranging from medieval musicians to contemporary composers. While learning about these musical masters, kids also work on their concentration, visual learning, short-term memory and attention to detail.
Maestro Mastery: Learn and Explore Great Composers is a supplemental ebook that tells inspiring stories of the composers in the board game. It also includes links to some of their favorite works so kids can hear the music of the music makers they’re learning about.