Music Matters: 3 Ways Music Education Supports Learning

music matters
Image via Katie Hurley


Making music is more than simply memorizing a few lyrics or learning to strum a chord.  For children, music instruction can help them excel in the classroom.  Formal music education, as it turns out, supports learning.

When children are engaged in music classes, they learn to use multiple skill sets simultaneously.  They have to look and listen while they process the information being taught, and often they have to use their hands while listening and processing.  While the professionals might make this look easy, it is actually quite the opposite.

But whether or not your child appears to have an innate talent for music, enrolling in music classes can help your child along the way.

Three ways music education supports learning:

  But there is one added benefit to music that should be noted:  It can have a calming effect on kids.

It boosts brain development:

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that early music training (before age 7) can improve skills on auditory and visual sensorimotor visualization tasks. 

It makes sense.  Learning to strum a guitar, for example, requires coordination between hands and auditory and/or visual stimulation.  Regular practice when learning an instrument strengthens the motor and sensory regions of the brain, and the connections between them.

It increases spatial-temporal skills:

Understanding music can help children visualize different elements that should go together.  This comes in handy when solving multi-step problems.  Other research shows that children exposed to regular music training perform better on object assembly tasks. 

What does that mean for your child?  It helps them visualize the necessary steps to solve difficult problems.  The kind you might find in math, architecture, engineering, and technology. 

It improves verbal memory:

Research conducted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong suggests that early music training improves verbal memory, possibly resulting in better test scores.  The thought behind this study is that music stimulates the left temporal lobe of the brain, which improves other functions.

Does this mean that every child exposed to early music education will ace the SAT?  Of course not.  But it might help with test-taking skills overall.  Music training helps the different regions of the brain work together, and that has the potential to assist with problem solving and memory. 

Research on early music training is ongoing, and we will no doubt learn more in the future.  But there is one added benefit to music that should be noted:  It can have a calming effect on kids.  So put some relaxing (but familiar) music on low volume during homework time or as your child drifts off to sleep at night.  You just might find that homework, nighttime, and learning feels a little easier.  

{ MORE: 4 Ways to Help Children Learn to Cope with Stress }

Are your kids taking music lessons? Do you have music incorporated into household routines like homework time or nighttime to ease stress levels? 

What do you think?

Music Matters: 3 Ways Music Education Supports Learning

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Dario Dario says:

    My kid will be taking piano lessons

  2. Profile photo of Lynette says:

    Music is a really good stress killer and I love music


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