by Dana Vachharajani
The New Year is a time where we reflect on the last year and set goals for the next. This New Year, what if we could help our children grow their confidence, hone their mindfulness and build resiliency? All while learning a new skill and having fun!
Since opening Dana V Music School in Louisville over 15 years ago, I’ve seen firsthand how music is a powerful tool to cultivate these elusive skills. Music changes us, comforts us, soothes us, and helps us find release and creativity.
Ahead of the New Year, I urge parents to learn more about the benefits of music education and consider what their child could gain by this time next year as a result:
Mindfulness and music can be reciprocal. Listening to music and finding pitch helps children pinpoint specific sounds – instead of being distracted by background noise, helping a child practice mindfulness and attentiveness. A study of parents who had children enrolled in music lessons found that 85% of the parents perceived their children had a greater ability to keep work- ing until finishing a task after one year in music lessons, even when they viewed that task as difficult.
Improved Confidence and Social Skills
We all want our children to be confident, and studies repeatedly demonstrate music education can help a child build confidence and their own unique identity. Music is a naturally collaborative activity. Working with a supportive teacher, being part of a small ensemble, orchestra or rock band can help a child develop their social skills - a key part of becoming a confident and self-assured adult. Though never required, performing in front of peers and at recitals provides a great opportunity to practice public speaking, presentation and communication skills. Many schools, including ours, offer performance opportunities in small and larger group settings, allowing students to build up to performing on a stage or in front of a larger crowd.
Music study can be tough, but maintaining a nurturing and safe space for a student to make mistakes helps so much. When the time comes for a student to take that step onto the stage, we have hopefully provided skills to overcome fear of what they might view as failing. Sometimes this fear of failure can be resolved in weeks or months, maybe just one small achievement in a lesson helps resolve the issue, but for some select students, it might take years.
Learning a new skill requires perseverance, discipline and motivation to succeed. Participating in an activity they are intrigued by, like learning a new instrument, is a powerful way to help children develop intrinsic motivation and discipline over time. This is great practice for the challenges your children will encounter later in life, and can help prepare them for the “real world.” As teachers, we ask our students to be accountable for their journey. With care and ad- vice, we ask students to complete assignments and tasks that will advance their skills, just like adults at their jobs. Sometimes tasks are joyful. Sometimes they require discipline and more attention that makes them feel like work, but learning how to turn the feeling of work into fun, excitement, validation and joy is part of learning.
If you have children in your life who may need a deeper connection to mindfulness, could benefit from improved self-esteem or still need to find their social niche, music programs present many opportunities to hone these and other important life skills while having fun. I urge parents to take that first step, ask questions and find the teacher or school that is the right fit for your child. It will be a gift for life.
Dana’s multifaceted career has been marked by singing in top venues, founding and teaching in her own private music school as well as consulting to further develop music education. A graduate of The Juilliard School and Carnegie Mellon University, she has been a featured soloist in Carnegie Hall, and Alice Tully Hall, as well as a touring artist and soloist with major orchestras around the US. Dana is a mother to three incredible children and also currently teaches voice at Dana V Music. To learn more, visit: ensembleschools.com/dana-v-music/.