It is widely known that music soothes and comforts our children, but it has also been shown to jumpstart their brain development. Particularly with little ones, music has a much more pronounced impact by growing and activating various parts of the brain, releasing feel-good chemicals, and laying the groundwork to help them excel in several different scientific fields such as math and engineering.
One study found those who practice a musical instrument display greater performance in many areas of cognitive functioning including language, memory, and auditory recognition. Furthermore, learning an instrument early uses various motor and auditory functions of the brain, which can help:
- Improve linguistic skills
- Gain a better spatial intelligence (visualization skills)
- Facilitate faster brain communication
- Relieve stress
These new research studies into the development of young brains via music have revealed some truly incredible things and have given many parents the desire to introduce their child to music; however, they are unsure of the right time to start. As Dr. Robert A Cutietta writing for PBS states, “The important question then is not when to start lessons, but what is the goal of music lessons for young children?”
Different families will have different reasons and goals for wanting their child to begin playing music. Despite these differences, your child’s introduction to both instruments and music should start as soon as possible. The fascinating and incredible benefits of instrumentation and music on infants’ cognitive and emotional development should be a priority for parents in order to give their child the necessary boost to succeed in their new world.
Of course, it is important to recognize that children learn at different rates. Different environments play a huge role in their development, so it is important to monitor their progress and, as parents and caregivers, decide what will be best for them. Infants and young children should begin experimenting with musical instruments as early as possible to take advantage of the numerous positive benefits. If your child isn’t showing an interest yet, don’t worry, and don’t force it. It’s best for them to develop a close fondness for music in a natural and organic way. Besides, young children are naturally curious about sound so it’s likely they will eventually develop an interest over time.
Examples of fun and casual ways of introducing your child to instruments could be:
- Letting them play with basic movement instruments like drums or tambourines
- Playing an instrument with them close by so they can visualize how it is played
- Allowing them to experiment with a variety of infant specific instruments like shakers and toy xylophones
A wonderful musical development program to also consider is known as the Suzuki Method. Developed by violinist Shinichi Suzuki, his program emphasized early instrumental teaching and practice, musical instruction, parental involvement, and an overall creation of a music-centered environment. He held the belief that all children have a musical ability, and if fostered early, this development with music allows children to become more well-rounded, educated, social, and prepared to take on their new world. This learning method is like the way children learn their native language where there is a heavy emphasis on constant repetition, encouragement, and parental involvement. He advocated for heavy parental involvement early on with not only language but also with music so that both can be developed to their fullest potential. While Suzuki created the program with the main goal of facilitating musical and personal growth and not specifically for creating child prodigies, many of those who created the program have since become highly skilled, professional musicians.
While we at Nuryl do not specifically endorse the Suzuki Method, we do recommend that you explore this method if you are interested in a deeper, more-immersive musical education for your child. You can read more information about it here: https://suzukiassociation.org/about/suzuki-method
The brain benefits of instrument playing have the power to help mold your child into a curious, creative, and confident individual ready to take on a life filled with the blessings of music. The sooner your child is introduced to an instrument, the sooner they can begin enjoying the educational and cognitive benefits that come with music playing. Whether they bang on some drums, poke at a guitar, or just listen and watch someone else play, their naturally curious mind will absorb it all. If they develop a passion for sound and creating music, this early start will help them develop alongside their instrument and create a lifelong hobby and skill.
 Dana L.S., Karen C.B., Nina K., Richard A., “Art and science: how musical training shapes the brain”. Frontiers in psychology, October 16, 2013. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00713/full.
 Dr. Robert A.C., “What’s the right age to begin music lessons”, PBS, May 7, 2012. https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/whats-the-right-age-to-begin-music-lessons.
 “The Suzuki Method”, International Suzuki Association, Accessed March 18, 2021. https://internationalsuzuki.org/method.htm.