“Music lessons are not for my son, he is an athlete.”
“My daughter isn’t artsy enough to play music.”
“We are a football family, we aren’t musically-inclined.”
These are all phrases that come to mind when I talk about the benefits of learning and playing an instrument to parents of athletic children. Athletics are essential to the physical and mental growth of children, but what can music lessons do for the athletic child? Let’s take a look:
Learning to play an instrument can increase the athletic child’s dedication to practice, commitment to learning and overcoming obstacles, and build confidence. The piano, for instance, has the challenges of learning to read music, remembering symbols, utilizing fine motor skills in the hands, wrists, and fingers, and controlling all of those on a keyboard of 88-keys! Imagine the mental and physical stimulation your child receives when taking piano lessons. Transferring these into their chosen sport can positively influence their training.
Learning to play a wind instrument (clarinet, flute, saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, tuba, trombone, oboe, and others) can greatly enhance lung capacity and breath control. The connection here was recently discussed by Aaron Perdue, a professional flutist and endurance runner, on NPR and American Public Media’s Performance Today. There are many endurance athletes (triathletes, swimmers, runners, etc.) who are also wind instrument players, noting the benefits of conditioning, disciplined practice, and the ability to manipulate their bodies to achieve desired results as the greatest links between endurance athletics and playing an instrument.
Learning to play an instrument can help make the athletic child more patient and persistent to achieve desired results. Long-term goals are something that the athletic child is all too familiar. The long distance runner slowly but surely increases their distances over long periods of time to eventually reach their running goal. Patience and the ability to see past current challenges is essential in training and conditioning. Just as learning to play an instrument takes time to master, such is the time to become a good athlete.
Learning an instrument provides the athletic child an outlet for personal expression/emotional release. Athletic children may be surrounded by a results-only environment for the majority of their day, without a dedicated way to express their emotions. Music lessons provide a way for these children to get in touch with their creative and expressive side, in a safe and controlled space. A study was recently published noting the positive effects of music lessons on attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control. By exposing your athletic child to music lessons, you are training the brain to be emotionally mature.
Sound off: Are you an athlete? Did you take music lessons when you were younger? What was your experience being an athlete and musician?