Listening to music moves you. It has profound impacts on your mood, thoughts and even your body. Think of how a high-energy song can help you through the last burst of a workout or a calm, classical tune can help you fall asleep. But the benefits of music aren’t limited to adults. In fact, the impact of music on young minds is especially powerful!
There are several key ways music impacts young brains and minds. First, music itself can shape how children and teens think, feel and behave. Second, music education – learning to appreciate and play music – can directly shape brain development, forming genuine connections in the brain. Here, the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra explores five ways music and music education can beautifully impact young minds.
Connecting to the senses
Music is a sensory experience. Most obviously, we hear it. But music also makes us feel in other ways. We feel the vibrations in our ears and on our skin. We see the musicians play instruments, or we read the sheet of music. We position our bodies and use specific muscles to pull a bow or hold a flute. Some even say music makes them taste or smell something associated with a music-related memory! Understanding the senses is one of infants’ first experiences, and reconnecting with their senses helps children and teens center themselves. Music education helps children tune in to hear different notes, make different sounds and sit with better posture.
Boosting developmental milestones
In infancy and very early childhood, the effects of music on the brain are especially noticeable. Music significantly influences development milestones in early childhood. For example, music can help children develop their language skills, fine motor skills, patience, confidence and more. Pfizer reported that music might help brain cells understand and use information faster, helping listeners adapt to new challenges and ideas. Listening to, playing and making music even increases blood flow to brain regions that process emotions!
Music is its own language, with distinct symbols and characters; learning music requires similar mental skills to learning a new language. That mental challenge helps children learn more complex ideas even faster! Children and teens build their pattern recognition skills when they learn to read and play music. Learning to read and play music might also help children learn to read other languages or complete calculations faster.
Children, especially teens, seek opportunities for self-expression. Self-expression is essential to understanding who we are and telling the world what we believe in and feel. Fortunately, listening to and creating music offers an impactful and transformative way for young people to express themselves. Children and teens who can express themselves in healthy ways, like playing or listening to music, can learn coping skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives!
Relaxing the body and mind
Another significant effect of music for children and teens is that it relaxes them. First, listening to music can help relieve anxiety for some people. When anxiety decreases, there are improvements in sleep quality, mood, memory and even behavior. Second, creating music provides a physical outlet for many kids and teens. When they play an instrument, they put their body and spirit into the act, which can help them expend excess energy to feel more relaxed and at ease.
Local Music Education Opportunities for Youth in Your Life
The benefits of music and music education for young people are clear. Fortunately, the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra provides multiple ways to involve young people in music through our New Generations Initiative. The Drayton Family Education Concerts provides music education to over 5,000 area elementary schoolers annually. For older teens, we offer student apprenticeships to help inspire and teach talented young musicians, giving them the space and support to grow into professionals. Please contact us to get involved in any of these events, and consider donating to support future youth education programming.