• Okay, so we always believed that playing an instrument at a young age was healthy for our children. While at a 2013 Neuroscience conference, with my psychologist husband, new research shed light on how playing an instrument fosters plasticity in a child’s growing brain. This is especially true for those who begin learning music before the age of seven. But it’s never too late to start and even you adults out there can benefit. The result is that there is a strengthening of the way the brain interprets and integrates a wide range of sensory information.

    There is also the added benefit of a child learning the rewards of discipline and diligence. Playing the piano, for example is not an easy feat in the beginning. Learning redundant finger exercises and scales is not most children’s idea of fun. However, practice regularly, and soon the child is able to play a song. They can actually hear the reward of their perseverance in a matter of weeks.

    My five year-old daughter pretends to complain about practicing but once she sits down to play, I can see that she is enjoying herself. I set the timer for 15 minutes a day. I forget some days, and she doesn’t remind me. Yet she will sit herself down and play for a couple of minutes because she simply felt like it. I have explained to her why piano is important for her brain development (with words and imagery she understands).

    Besides the benefit of strengthening the connectivity of different brain regions, we truly enjoy hearing beginning piano practice in the background. It’s much more pleasant than beginning violin. So, maybe it’s not so bad to force piano, or other instrument lessons, on your kids or yourself, for that matter.