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We talked about the advantages of vocal training. Now, let’s see how learning to
play instruments of music improves learning skills of the child in other spheres
of life. We shall begin with writing skills.
As in all things, if you practice long enough, you can learn to write well. Most
adults write with ease, and children learn this skill at school and at home. In order
to correctly express our thoughts on paper, we all had to learn the rules of basic
grammar. Some of us have succeeded more than others: some still misspell words and
make stylistic mistakes.
If the ability to write without mistakes depended only on knowing the rules, then
almost everyone would be able to write correctly. But even at a normal intellectual
development rate, children often have difficulties in mastering writing skills and
expressing their ideas. And this happens for reasons not connected with defects of
sight, hearing or any neurological impediments. The mastering of literacy can be
impeded by the disruption of space perception, and here is how music improves learning
abilities as you will see later.
Statistically, 60 percent of elementary school students have very vague ideas about
such concepts as right, left, below, above, etc. It is easy to determine how well
your child can orientate himself in space.
Face the child and ask him to move his left and right hand (or leg) up and down.
Ask questions inconsistently and without any help or hints by your glances or body
movement. The child should react to and answer only your verbal commands.
What are the results of this simple test? Did the child follow your directions? If
he gave the correct answers to all of them, great! This means his sense of space
perception is good. If the child did not complete the task or had to think about
it, it means that he mirrors his letters and numbers, or rearranges letters and syllables
in a word, or words, in the sentence. In addition, he might not have the spatial
sense of the page border. Sometimes such children will omit letters and even syllables,
or they will write two words together in a sentence. One more sign of the disruption
of space perception can be the child’s habit of writing the sentence in lowercase.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking: “What does music have to do with this and how music
improves learning these things?” When a child is learning the basics of playing a
musical instrument, he does not have these difficulties: he definitely knows where
his right and left hands are. His knowledge is supported with the use of visual methods:
he has musical notation, where the left and right hand parts are clearly marked,
right in front of him. And, for example, in the notation for piano, the top line
specifies the right-hand part, and the bottom line specifies the left-hand part.
This means that the “musical” child easily copes with such concepts as “above” and
“below.” Children who study music acquire the knowledge of intervals and sound sequence
in chords that will add to his spatial concepts and, hence, music improves learning
and writing skills.
We can offer another test to make sure that music improves learning abilities of
your child in this area. I recommend it to parents who have a good sense of rhythm,
rate and good rhythmic memory.
Clap or tap a simple rhythmic pattern, and ask your son or daughter to count the
number of claps or taps you made. If the child makes correct calculations but fails
to repeat the given rhythmic pattern, he will write the wrong letter instead of the
heard sound. He will also have difficulties with hyphenation rules and will miss
the letters. A word is made of letters (sounds) and syllables, and syllables divide
the word into rhythmic units.
The solution to this difficulty, if encountered in your child, is simple: encourage
him to learn to play a musical instrument! Music improves learning skills!