Attending a baseball game doesn’t make you fit and neither does watching a legal thriller make you lawyer. The same thinking applies to music. Do not expect your brain to benefit from music simply by listening to Mozart.
In order to reap the benefits of music — from improved memory to enhanced communication skills to better executive function — one has to play an instrument and be engaged, according to a recent Northwestern University study led by researcher Nina Kraus.
“Because it is only through the active generation and manipulation of sound that music can rewire the brain,” Kraus told Time magazine.
So, the bottom line is that listening to classical music and going to the Hollywood Bowl are great cultural experiences but they are not enough. Yet, the answer is not forcing an unwilling child to take lessons because there’s a good chance she will not pay attention and not practice.
Ideally, children need express their opinions about music lessons. Even if she is not initially keen on the idea, let her pick the instrument and spend time together finding the right instructor, someone who is knowledgeable and can get her excited about making music.
Adds Krause: “Making music should be something that children enjoy and will want to keep doing for many years!”
If you would like to learn more about Kraus’ research or how the brain benefits from playing music, consider attending KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum that will discuss this subject in depth.
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