How Joining The Choir, Band, Or Orchestra Could Make Your Child More Resilient
All parents want the best for their children. They want them to be happy and involved in things that interest them, but in America, that often means sports.
It turns out that urging kids to at least experience band, orchestra, or choir could be better for their development long-term.
This study was based on the Tasmanian Youth Orchestras, which are made up of musicians between the ages of 14 and 25. Players, managers, and conductors/teachers offered comments on a closed site and also participated in eight follow-up interviews.
They found that group music making promotes teamwork, empathy, and grit like nothing else they’ve found.
First, teamwork – because for a piece of music to work, everyone has to play together. It doesn’t work with your own contributions alone, as one conductor reminded them.
“After a while, players realized that they were ultimately responsible to the other players not to the conductor.”
Next, players found that empathy – being able to understand the others in the group and their feelings – was hugely beneficial to the creative experience.
One brass player commented, “I have to understand that I am not always going to be the main focus of a piece.”
Another player said he had a lightbulb moment when he realized everyone was working as hard as he was on the pieces they were going to perform.
Multiple studies have shown that a “growth mindset” is very important to development. This is when kids understand effort and learning are long-term commitments to getting stronger and better.
Knowing that they are working on a piece to perform as an end-goal – or that their practices are making them a better player a bit at a time, helps them develop grit.
One participant thought his experience in his school’s musical was a perfect example.
“There were many points throughout the year which I felt like giving up, but it was something I had committed to. I kept working on playing the music to the best of my ability, even if it felt like I couldn’t do it.”
One of the choir conductors thinks that the way performances encourage kids to deal with the unexpected is also a “safe” way to work on being brave.
The reason experts think music accomplishes more than sports or academia is that playing music sparks activity in different parts of the brain at the same time. Music triggers the pleasure/reward center of the brain and when dopamine and serotonin, making and engaging with the music is its own reward.
Learning a musical instrument links the auditory cortex to parts of the brain that process complex information, a link that has been shown to improve memory, motor function, and the ability to learn.
Studies have also shown that making music with others releases oxytocin and reduces stress levels of cortisol, while also boosting immune function.
Playing music with others can also help kids manage and express their emotions, which is a big focus for many parents these days.
So while all team activities have their place and their benefits, it does seem as if there is something special about making music – so maybe encourage your littles (or bigs!) to give it a try.