Living in the multi-cultural and multi-national city of Dubai, children are exposed to many different types of music on a daily basis, be it what they hear on the radio, at school or simply learning a song on TV. Exposure to music stimulates their brains and helps them learn.
Whether learning a musical instrument or in a classroom setting with others, music enhances intelligence. It has been found that when the musical centre of the brain is stimulated, the parts relating to maths, reading and emotional development are also stimulated.
Music improves memory. Research has repeatedly shown that participation in music at a young age can improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development. This helps with retaining information and thus improve learning.
Music has an impact on socio-emotional- development, which includes a child’s experience, expression and management of emotions, as well as the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others. Socially, children who become part of a musical group or band learn important skills such as working together as a team, appreciating the outcome of a good performance and of course development of leadership skills and valuing hard work.
In Dubai, children learn about the cultures of others through music and thus become aware of cultural sensitivities.
Music boosts confidence and self-esteem. During my years of teaching music, time and time again I have seen shy, quiet children slowly develop confidence in a musical setting. This is partly due to establishing an atmosphere of support and constructive feedback for all class performances by peers and by teaching staff. Initially, children learn through observing and not always having the pressure to be the solo performer. Finding and encouraging a child’s individual learning style and area of interest is paramount to building confidence and a passion for music.
Music teaches patience. Rehearsing over and over again to ensure a group performance is accurate, singing a song many times to learn the lyrics, or practising an instrument several times a week at home to learn a piece of music teaches patience. In a world of instant gratification, learning that it takes time and steady dedication to prepare musical concert items is a lesson children will benefit from throughout their lives.
Music boosts technological skills. When using musical programmes and apps on Mac computers and iPads, children learn invaluable skills and are kept up to date with technological advances. Learning how to explore sound through intricate musical programmes as well as learning to compose electronically and evaluate their work in a proactive constructive way, sets the scene for happy and progressive learning.
Music can help children relax and unwind throughout their lives. With busy schedules, high expectations at school and later in their working lives, introducing music as a hobby can be an invaluable tool. Be it simply being able to switch off from social media or TV for a while as they create playlists for their iPod or simply to play some songs with a group of others, listening to music is a wonderful way to relax. This is a much-needed skill in the 21st century.
Music teaches discipline. You may have heard the anonymous quote that begins “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer is to “Practice, practice, practice.” To improve in music, you have to not only progress in classes but devote time to practising outside of the lessons too. Exposing kids to musical instruments is a great introduction to managing practice time at home and thus learning discipline.
Music fosters creativity and imagination. I believe that music classes should primarily foster multi-cultural awareness, empathy, finding each child’s unique musical passion (singing, technology, performing, or composing) and of course classes should enhance creativity and expression.
I’d like to end with a quote by Plato, which concludes my thoughts on musical learning.
I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but most importantly music for the patterns in music and all the arts are the key to all learning.