The benefits of learning music for children extend beyond the ability of being able to play an instrument. Early musical training, even pre-school lessons, has been shown to assist in the development of certain mental thought processes, especially developing spatial intelligence, pattern recognition, forming conclusions and reasoning skills.
For example, look at violin lessons for children. The child begins to learn how to play the violin, how to pay attention and listen to his violin teacher, and to play simple musical songs. For example, with the Suzuki method violin teaching, the children imitate the violin teacher, playing songs by ear, and learn to associate playing correct notes with success. There are patterns involved, and it is not unlike learning to read using phonetics. The mental connection between making the motions to produce a correct note, hearing that correct note, and following musical patterns aids not only in reading, but helps to set the stage for better math skills as well.
It is important for parental involvement to occur, because learning to play a musical instrument requires an amount of discipline most children do not have. Learning the discipline of practice, whether it is beginner violin or math or reading, is what leads to success. The children benefit from praise from parents and teachers, and have the immediate satisfaction of knowing they played the right notes, once they have learned exactly what the right notes sound like. Again, it is similar to learning to read by phonetics.
Reports show a relationship between music and spatial intelligence, but so far there has been no explanation of why this occurs. Knowing that it does occur, however, is plenty enough reason to encourage even the youngest child to begin musical knowledge, as with learning how to play beginner violin. It is clear that musical training improves reading skills, especially at the phonemic stage. Recognizing patterns of music will aid learning patterns in other areas, such as reading and math. Just studying music for its own pleasure also increases creative and cognitive skills and abstract thinking in children.
It is important for parents and teachers to realize the wonderful benefits of learning music for children, and to encourage learning how to play the violin, and to know that a patient, caring violin teacher can guide the young developing minds towards success in many other areas as well.