Why Take Guitar Lessons?
(Or any other instrument for that matter?)
The link between music lessons and intelligence is not completely understood, but we know it exists. There is an intrinsic relationship between the two. Studies show that those who take guitar lessons (or other instrument) and diligently practice the instrument actually become smarter people.
This makes sense to me as a music instructor and as a musician. There are few environments that demand an individual be so alert, responsive, and prepared as does music. To perform music well, you must be able to simultaneously play one phrase, whilst mentally preparing to play an entirely DIFFERENT musical phrase. Putting it all together requires motor-skills, motor memory, cognitive memory, and critical listening skills.
In order to learn music, you must be able to recognize and utilize patterns and have a firm understanding of math and rhythmic sub-divisions. This is why I believe so many scientists and computer programmers I know are also musicians. (Einstein used to say that he loved playing violin just as much as he loved physics).
"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music." -- Albert Einstein
Every child has a natural talent. Most will not grow to be as talented as Einstein in physics or as gifted as Mozart in music, but there is no question that studying music improves our cognitive abilities such as pattern recognition, listening, and memory retrieval. These are tools that are indelibly valuable in all walks of life. Below you'll find what I believe to be the five most persuasive reasons every child should be exposed to music lessons.
1) Guitar Lessons Grow Your Brain
Scientist Gottfried Schlaug, M.D. Ph.D, Director of Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Stroke Recovery Laboratory, and Division Chief, Cerebrovascular Diseases, Associate Professor of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School (that's a mouthful), has found that there are striking differences between the brains of professional musicians compared to non-musicians (e.g., larger corpus callosum, larger motor and auditory regions). He states that research by several groups has proved that when children receive long-term music training, the result is long-term enhanced visual-spatial reasoning, enhanced verbal memory, and amplified mathematical performance.
Learn More Here (click this link and then click "Children and Music Making": http://www.musicianbrain.com/#children
SUGGESTED READING: Here's a study about how music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning: http://faculty.washington.edu/demorest/rauscher.pdf
2) Guitar Lessons Improve Motor Skills
Here is a link to another study full of big science words by Schlaug:
http://musicianbrain.gottfriedschlaug.org/papers/Schlaug_Music_Child_Brain_NYAS2005.pdf I'm going to break it down into layman's terms here:
They found that the part of the brain which controls motor-skills is also bigger (denser) than non musicians. This is another study that proves practicing music literally causes your brain to grow, just as weightlifting causes your muscles to grow. Their hypothesis is supported by a wealth of experiments on humans and animals that connect structural changes with long-term motor training (i.e. practicing an instrument).
3) Guitar Lessons Improve Attention Span and Self Control
It is believed by many scientists that musical training improves attention span and self-control. Michael I. Posner Ph.D. is one of these scientists. He wrote an article called "How Arts Training Improves Attention and Cognition" published in 2009. Here's a quick quote about that article "Does education in the arts transfer to seemingly unrelated cognitive abilities? Researchers are finding evidence that it does. Michael Posner argues that when children find an art form that sustains their interest, the subsequent strengthening of their brains attention networks can improve cognition more broadly."
Here's a link to that article: http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=23206
4) Guitar Lessons Augments Geometric Ability
Elizabeh Spelke, a neuro psychologist at Harvard University, studied children between the ages of 5 and 18. She compared musical training to other training (dance, theater, sports) and assessed the abilities of individuals on geometry after training. We found a clear benefit for intensive music training, compared to theater or writing, Spelke said. On map-reading tests, she added, children with music training performed better than children with training in other art forms. The observed connection between geometric reasoning and music raises many more questions than it answers, she noted, including why there is a link and how the brain might be involved."
Learn more here: http://www.dana.org/news/features/detail.aspx?id=11810
5) Guitar Lessons Improves Overall Performance at School
"In 1996, the College Entrance Exam Board Service conducted a study on all students taking their SAT exams. Students who sang or played a musical instrument scored 51 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and an average of 39 points higher on math." -- HowToLearn.com (http://www.howtolearn.com/products/mozart-effect).
Famous Quotes About Music
”It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception.” - Albert Einstein
”Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
”Music is everybody’s possession, it’s only publishers that think people own it. ” - John Lennon
”One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” - Bob Marley
”If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away..” - Henry David Thoreau
”Music is moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” - Plato
”Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” - Jimi Hendrix
”This land is your land, this land is my land, sure, but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.” - Bob Dylan
”I call architecture frozen music.” - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
”Music expresses that which is impossible to be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” - Victor Hugo
”Music is the universal language of mankind.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
”Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” - Steve Martin
”Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.” - Frank Zappa
”Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.” - Jimmy Carter
”Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” - Ludwig van Beethoven
”If you look deep enough you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere music.” - Thomas Carlyle
”Music can change the world because it can change people.” - Bono
”Where painting is weakest, namely, in the expressions of the highest moral and spiritual ideas, there music is sublimely strong.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe
”Nevertheless the passions, whether violent or not, should never be so expressed as to reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.” - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
”I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me, like food or water.” - Ray Charles
”Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
”As a great democratic society, we have a special responsibility to the arts. For art is the great democrat, calling forth creative genius from every sector of society, disregarding race or religion or wealth or color. What freedom alone can bring is the liberation of the human mind and a spirit which finds its greatest flowering in the free society. I see of little more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than the full recognition of the place of the artist.” - John F. Kennedy
”Music is not a matter of life and death; it is much more important than that.” - Unknown
”A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” - Leopold Stokowski