Every week there seems to be an article in the paper saying
“scientists have done another study and discovered that kids who learn music at school are more clever than those that don’t, smell nicer, can leap taller buildings than superman and put their own breakfast bowls in the dishwasher without nagging.”
And everytime I see it I boil with rage. STOP IT SCIENTISTS! Because they’re not telling you the whole story. Parents are reading these articles and pouring thousands of pounds and hours of effort into trying to engage their kids with music without realising that they could be setting themselves up for the biggest parent fail going.
When these kids grow up they will want to be a professional musician!
Musician is a silly job. You start out with dreams that you’re going to be the next George Michael and before you know it you’re playing bass for Barwell Operatic Society’s version of 42nd street. Each night you play faster and faster so that you get to spend more time at the make shift bar. By the last night Gill from the co-op is tap dancing that fast her taps are glowing. You swear to yourself there will be no more crap gigs but you have to wait three months for your next offer which is either a tour to the outer Hebrides of Grease or Barwell Op doing Copacabana. The thought of Gill in her sequin bikini makes the choice obvious – off to the Hebrides you go.
Yes, they love what they do and can’t imagine doing anything else but there is no regular wage, no pension, no canteen, no stationery cupboard to pilfer from and the hours mean you can’t date anybody other than another musician or, god forbid, an actor. Have you tried dating an actor? My husband has and look how it turned out for him – he is tortured constantly by my drama. Learn from his mistake!
When it comes to children, Music is just like chocolate – in moderation it has some genuine benefits (I am yet to find a more effective bribe than chocolate).
The scientifically proven benefits of structured music activities for children are thus:
- Increased phonological awareness (see my blog phonological awareness boogie woogie for a really serious explanation of that) which turns into enhanced language and reading skills (it’s all about the rhyme!)
- Increased parent-child communication is seen in those who attend structured early years classes that involve music (though there is no evidence that lasts into teenage there is always hope!!)
- Increased confidence, particularly in children who feel shy in their usual settings
- Musical communication can overcome language barriers where English is a second language (this works with babies too)
- Community links and partnerships are formed by music. People come together and socialise. It’s something we can share and enjoy … as long as we don’t get carried away.
- Music can be used in a multi-modal approach, meaning that it can form part of a story or a dance exhibition. BE CAREFUL HERE – ACTORS MAY BE INVOLVED!
So there we are. This is just a few of the benefits of moderate music activity. Many successful people have music training to a very high level in music, but then they saw the light. Condoleezza Rice for example, will not be appearing in Barwell any time soon.
The trick is to get the kids doing music until early teenage so that they reap all the amazing benefits. Then start trying to put them off so that they don’t take it up as a job. Above is a photograph of my parents efforts to try and put me off music. If I wanted to play the violin I had to wear that outfit and play Michael Jackson songs. I still play that violin. My brother gave up music around that time – he now drives a Jag. Enough said.
Next week I’ll be writing about the dangers of letting your children draw. If you think being a musician is bad then artist is a whole new level!
If you enjoyed this comedy blog from a woman who loves music so much she sings along to supermarket radio and has taught her children to do the same then like us on Facebook by clicking HERE. A blog is published every Monday morning.
SARAH CANTRILL is a woman on a mission to inspire every young child to become a reader for pleasure. She is the Artistic Director & Founder of STORY STORKS, a social enterprise that delivers interactive story workshops to early years children and their grown ups, that help kids to fall in love with stories and develop their early language skills meaning that they have an easier time of learning to read when the time is right. Infact 80% of the kids who come through STORY STORKS are right where they should be or ahead in terms of progression through the reading book scheme once they get to school and the ones who are behind are trying hard because they know that it’s worth it – that to read is to unlock a whole world of fun and adventure and learning and imagination and they might take a bit longer to get there but they’re determined that get there they will.