Kids tense? Try music lessons

Learning the swaras calms children down, helps them learn multiple skills, and protects them from anxiety, say psychologists and parents

Padmapriya HJ, keyboard teacher, with one of her students.

Children who learn music develop many non-musical skills, and tend to be happier in school, parents and doctors say.

Dr Sulata Shenoy, director, Turning Point, Psychology Centre for Psychological Assessments, Therapies and Counseling, says, “Many studies indicate that music can have a positive impact on growing minds. This is called the ‘Mozart effect’. Babies exposed to classical music right from infancy develop cognitively better than others.”

Music does have a soothing effect on children. For example, singing to babies is a time-tested strategy to put them to sleep, she observes. “Light music played in the background while children learn a complex task is also seen to keep them alert and focused. Music is also a social activity and children of all ages enjoy singing, regardless of singing ability,” she adds.

Many parents fear if their kids get into music, they neglect academics. Sulata says it is important for parents to understand that academics, sports, and cultural activities are all important in a child’s life.

“Every child needs to take up some form of music during their formative years and as all children need a hobby, this is one of the best. However, the emphasis can vary. During examinations, other activities can be minimised, whereas, during weekends and vacations, academics can be minimised. It is all about creating a balance,” she says. Dr Vishwanath Prasad, founder and chairman, Rhythms College of Fine Arts, says all fine arts — music, dance, and painting — hold benefits for children.

“The beauty is that they can be practised regardless of one’s age, gender, religion and financial background. It is definitely important for the overall growth of a child, considering how these days children face stress. The age between eight and 14 years is the golden period of learning,” he says.

For a learner to perform even a five-minute piece, multiple skills are called for.

“When a singer performs in front of a crowd, he or she has to concentrate on the ‘swaras’, the lyrics, the rhythm instrument and overall stage presence. With training, the brain becomes active, leading to the development of multitasking abilities,” he says.
 Development of leadership qualities and an increase in confidence are also noticed in music students, Vishwanath says. “Children who are into fine art tend to be more mature and disciplined,” he reckons.

 

‘My daughter became less stubborn, more creative’

Riya Sharma, content creator, says her nine-year-old daughter Arya has been learning the keyboard since she was five, and that has made her calmer and “less stubborn”.

“After I put her into music, her energy has got diverted into something more positive. She now knows how to keep herself engaged creatively. While earlier, she spent a lot of time watching TV or playing on the phone, she uses her time making new tunes on the keyboard now,” she says.

Arya also shows interest in crafts such as making greeting cards, origami, and sports. Her thought process, Riya notices, is different from that of other children her age. “She has the ability to solve a problem and handle herself maturely in different situations,” she says.

Music, she says, keeps a child engaged and in a long run can become a friend, just like books.

“Instead of smoking or driving around rashly when upset, music enables one to make new tunes or indulge oneself creatively,” she says.

 

Benefits of music

Improves cognition skills
Teaches attentiveness to multiple aspects
Relieves stress, and helps manage pain
Aids memory retention and sleep
Elevates mood, provides motivation

(Indicated by multiple studies)

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