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The Importance of Music - Why Music Lessons and Practicing Are Always Good Ideas - Perspective of a 19-Year-Old after 7 Years of Piano Lessons aged 7-13, then 16-17

In the last few years, my view on the importance of music lessons in childhood has changed drastically. 

Music is a universal language that brings people together. Yet, some of this isn’t quite understood by a young kid.

I first took piano lessons from a private teacher at age 7. (There are advantages to waiting until your child can read before starting music lessons - you can enquire with your teacher based on what age you are thinking for kids' lessons). I took a break - I believe it was, “I’m never taking lessons again” at age 14, but then asked to go back for 18 months in Junior year to finish Grade 6-8 RCM. I’m now a “casual pianist”. 

Until around age 14, my thoughts on practicing piano were nothing but negative. Being “encouraged” to practice piano was one of my least favorite activities. I know my mom was a bit harsh on the consistency - she wanted me to get her money’s worth and love music -  and I do recall wanting to storm off to my room often. It was about 100 times “4 bars left hand, 4 bars right hand, 4 bars hands together,” as my teacher specified. I preferred to whip through a practice piece end to end, not stopping to correct mistakes, but the adults did not.  

I am not entirely sure when the switch in my head happened, but now I am very grateful to have been “encouraged” through music lessons from a young age. 

Not only are music lessons good for cognitive development, but they are also scientifically proven to improve memorization skills and the ability to focus. 

Not only that but learning to read music and experience with one instrument means you can also more easily play multiple instruments. Because of my piano training, I picked up the guitar with ease in the ninth grade and was quickly able to strum basic chords and sing. 

Studying music theory was also part of my teenage musical experience  - my piano teacher required it. It seemed a bit like a chore but there is a good reason behind having kids learn theory. Learning theory improves your sight reading and music understanding. This is very helpful when learning new pieces quickly - essentially, sight reading - and writing your music. 

Starting children off in music at a young age is not only fun for children but can and should be fun for parents. Being able to see your child learn, grow and progress is extraordinary. Spending time with your kids at parent-participation music lessons is good quality time, and parents often get to practice rhythm (clapping), play rhythm instruments, sing, and dust off their musical learning (or start if they haven’t before).  

A family commitment to music can also be good quality time as kids progress to in-studio lessons. Working together on practicing and meeting the teacher’s (or child’s!) goals is a very good way to spend time. A bit of parental accountability and “sitting with them” will help your child progress faster than just sending them off to practice. 

Taking music lessons and having music as a hobby makes you more well-rounded and also looks well-rounded on your resume and or school/university applications. Some high schools give music credits for certain levels of accomplishment in music. 

A secret - that’s not so secret: practicing 5-6 days a week - even 15 mins for little ones - will result in more rapid progress! Plus practicing shows more respect for your teacher and makes their job more fun. 

Overall, my thoughts on music lessons with consistent practice from a young age have changed over time, but let me tell you, being able to sit down at any piano now and crack out some Mozart is pretty cool. 

Katie Spence

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