By Samuel Stokes, Ph.D.
In a landmark study, I have recently concluded that students who take music lessons are more likely to know a wide variety of things about music, particularly compared to other children who have not studied music. Working from the theory that students will learn about music if they receive music lessons, I have tested this hypothesis with every music student that I have taught over the last fifteen years. The results were astoundingly unanimous – every student to whom I have given music lessons has known more about music after they began than when they started.
The correlations were uncanny – if I taught a student about percussion rudiments, it resulted in the student knowing percussion rudiments; if I taught piano scale fingerings, the student would consequently know piano scale fingerings. It seems that everything that I taught them about music would result in the student knowing and understanding something about music.
Although it may be difficult to imagine, MRI scans have shown that participating in music lessons activates key parts of the brain that are used to learn and understand music. This may be part of the reason that children who take music lessons seem to perform better when playing music than their peers that have not taken music lessons.
In fact, evidence would further suggest that adults who took music lessons as a child also know more about music than other adults that never took music lessons, helping the former group to understand and appreciate music in a way that the latter group does not understand.
From this study, I can conclude that if you would like for your children to be good at music, then taking music lessons is the right choice. Does it help them develop language, math, or critical thinking skills, as well? Maybe, but we can be certain that by taking music lessons, your children will gain knowledge and skills that will help them be more proficient at music.