The benefits of making classical music available to children

Playing classical music to children

…and improvements brought about by actually playing an instrument as opposed to just listening

There has been a great deal of recent research relating to the benefits of children being made aware of classical music – some of which has been taken a step further, with an assessment of the potential increased benefits of playing rather than just passively listening. 

If you are going to get kids listening to classical music, the first steps is to play them something that they’ll actually enjoy – and an excellent stating point is the BBC Radio 3 website with some first class suggestions Ten pieces that will make your kids instant classical music fans, including Holst’s Mars from The Planets and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

The Classical MPR site also has some good ideas in a piece What’s the ideal work to introduce classical music to kids? Here are your picks, featuring the likes of Dance of the Hours and Peter and the Wolf.

Now you’ve got them listening, will it help?

An article on the Classic FM website a few years back referred to research undertaken at 26 primary schools in London, with 7 – 10 year olds. The cornerstone of the piece was that Classical music improves children’s social skills.

At around the same time, a piece on the Daily Mail website Playing classical music to your child can improve their listening skills later on in life, referred to more specific benefits:-

“Playing classical music to young children boosts their concentration and self-discipline as well as their social skills.”

Are there increased benefits from actually playing an instrument?

A Time Magazine article by Melissa Locker called This Is How Music Can Change Your Brain was in no doubt.

“Science has shown that when children learn to play music, their brains begin to hear and process sounds that they couldn’t otherwise hear. This helps them develop “neurophysiological distinction” between certain sounds that can aid in literacy, which can translate into improved academic results for kids.”

The Conversation provided a very detailed article which focused on the benefits of playing and instrument as opposed to just listening to music – How music benefits children.

Dawn Rose a Researcher in the Psychology of Music and Dance at the University of Hertfordshire makes some interesting and well balanced observations including “…improvements in small motor skills and general intelligence have been linked to musical training”.

“Research also shows how musical learning can help children to apply themselves, as well supporting the processes involved in teamwork and appreciation of working towards shared goals.”

At the very least, as someone once said, it keeps kids off the streets…