"...let the children of Zion
rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with
dancing with drums and harp, let them make music
to Him..."

Tehillim 149:2

Why Study Music

Music as a form of communication

Music is a basic form of human expression which goes beyond spoken language.  Before babies can form words or even understand language, they can already recognize a familiar tune, express interest when music is played and even replicate simple melodic patterns. 

EFFECTS of INSTRUMENTAL STUDY on the BRAIN

The BRAIN of a person who pays an instrument is DIFFERENT from the brain of a non-musician. There is more grey matter in regions responsible for sensory-motor, language development, auditory discrimination. Brain WIRING CHANGES in response to musical training because students are taught to:

  1. Focus for extended periods of time
  2. Decode complex symbolic system (music notation)
  3. Translate the code (music notation) into motor patterns
  4. Store large pieces of information in working memory where it can be easily retrieved for playing
  5. Engage both sides of the brain “simultaneously” as both hands perform complex motor patterns at the same time
  6. Look for and recognize patterns in music

Ordinary experiences are enhanced by music

Many physical or emotional experiences are intensified and deepened by music. Walking turns into marching with the drum’s steady beat, falling asleep is sweeter with a soothing lullaby, tefillah gains passion when sung.  Whether it is an orchestra, or a group of children sharing a song, music has an immediate unifying effect on the most diverse group of individuals.   

Music as a tool for teaching

Music has long been used as a teaching tool to achieve goals beyond the sheer enjoyment of it.  Children are naturally “wired” for music. Recent research shows that the study of music promotes the development of the brain areas involved in language and reasoning.  Children can focus on musical activities longer and more intensely, they readily absorb information presented in a musical context. 

Spatial intelligence

There is also a relationship between music study and spatial intelligence – the ability to form mental images and visualize the way details come together to form a coherent whole.  Spatial intelligence is involved in tasks ranging from understanding abstract mathematical problems to packing a backpack with all the items needed for the day.

Early ensemble in the context of group music-making does not only promote social interaction but allows each child to focus on the big picture as well as on the part they play in it.  Even very young children stay alert to make sure they come in on cue and play on the beat.

The study of a musical instrument

Learning to play an instrument has far-reaching effects on developing positive character traits such as perseverance, commitment, time-management, and personal discipline.  It is remarkable, how many details in posture and playing technique children learn to focus on as they play.  When it all comes together and they are able to play a musical piece with ease, they know they DID IT!   Every time these children tackle a life challenge they can mentally go back to this personal victory and build upon it.  There is nothing more empowering for a child than taking on a challenge and gradually overcoming it through consistent effort. 

Process vs. Product

Learning a musical instrument is a complex, multi-step process where children maintain their focus on multiple tasks simultaneously, store steps in working memory and learn new musical patterns at the same time.  In playing the violin each hand is engaged in a different activity, which stimulates both sides of the brain at once.

Regardless of the final product or the ultimate achievement, it is the process of instrument study itself, which supports optimal cognitive development and gives a child the opportunity to develop the awareness and the skills used in all areas of life.