A Harvard-based study released in 2008 found that young children who study a musical instrument outperform children in their same age group with no instrumental training—not only in tests of auditory discrimination and finger dexterity (skills honed by the study of a musical instrument), but also on tests measuring verbal ability and visual pattern completion (skills not normally associated with music). The study’s published findings specifically stated that: “Studying an instrument seems to bring benefits in areas beyond those that are specifically targeted by music instruction.”
My co-author of FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids and myself are products of our respective school music programs. As students, we participated in a variety of music classes, clubs and ensembles. As adult musicians, we are able to see the benefits that they received from our musical education—both then and now. Here’s a testimony from both of us:
Rich: “I started playing the drums in 1977 and was kind of an overachiever. At eight years old I was playing five-stroke rolls, flams and flam taps. I was reading and even playing the Joel Rothman books. I started taking lessons because my Dad was like, ‘Hey, do you want to learn a musical instrument?’ and I was like ‘No, I want to learn the drums!’ So, I started taking lessons and my first teacher taught me how to hold the sticks correctly, the importance of posture, reading and the rudiments. I got really involved with the music programs in school starting in the fifth grade. Concert band, marching band, orchestra, jazz band, the pep band – anything I could get my hands on and then always had projects outside of school as well… jam bands, rock bands, tribute bands. I just always wanted to play. I remained dedicated to learning as much as I could about the instrument and followed my passion all the way to a Master’s Degree in music. I definitely believe that music made me a better student. You could say I’m proof that music education works. I’m still learning every day.”
Me: “I started playing later than Rich (in 1985) and continued taking formal lessons up until I was a young adult. I still take lessons via the Internet whenever I can. Music education was always an essential part of my life and I don’t remember a time growing up that I wasn’t involved with percussion teachers and ensembles both in and out of school. For me, I started out with a pair of sticks and a drum pad. I had to take lessons in order to prove I was serious. Then my parents bought me my first kit (a Pearl Export) and that was all she wrote. My first gigs were as the drummer for the middle school choir band which later led to symphonic, marching, stage, pit, and percussion ensemble bands. As I got older, I jammed with my friends outside of school and that gave me a sense of balance. Music lessons taught me discipline and a greater appreciation for all genres of music. As a parent of four, I am a big believer that activities such as sports and the arts enhance a child’s growth. All of my kids are perennial honor roll students and have had success as players and performers. I credit them and not myself.”
FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids is the culmination of the collective experiences and educations of Rich (professional-player) and myself (a player-parent) who understand the tangible benefits of exposing children to music at a young age. Whether a child decides to pursue an instrument seriously or not, the skill set they develop will give them an edge in all aspects of education. This includes memory, creativity and enhanced reading and writing skills.
Plus learning and playing music is F-U-N and what’s better than that when you’re a kid?