Do Students Who Play Instruments Do Better in School?

As a human, having hobbies and participating in extra murals outside our normal daily program not only balances us out as holistic human beings but also gives us a chance to perform non-academical activities. The big question here is, does playing a musical instrument have an impact on our academic performance?

Studies have proven that playing a musical instrument can improve one’s memory, spatial-temporal skills, and ability to process information. Additionally, students participating in musical activities perform better academically than their non-musical peers. Playing a musical instrument requires discipline, dedication, and practice which can all help students succeed in their academic pursuits.

Today we will look at some real-life examples of students that experienced success playing an instrument after they had a difficult and challenging social and academic adaption to school. The names used below are of course hidden names.

Kids learning new instruments

Case study: Anton

Let me tell you about Anton (10). This boy moved from Africa to Europe. A completely different environment and a huge culture shock. He got mocked by his peers and many of his actions were frowned upon even though to him it was normal.

Anton also had a way in him where he needs to be brutally honest to adults about what takes place outside of the classroom. His peers thought that he was tattling, but as a teacher, you truly appreciate knowing what is going on behind your back so that all the kids can be protected. All these factors contributed to Anton feeling pushed out socially. He also struggled to cope with the adaption to a new standard and different curriculum.

Anton changed schools during 2nd grade so that he can start with a clean slate and implement the correct social behaviour and skills he acquired at the previous school. His parents met a nice music teacher and offered Anton a chance to learn to play an instrument. Anton started to find mentors at his new school and was inspired. He decided that learning the electric guitar would be a great idea!

After half a year of practising and performing regularly, Anton’s social and academic situation was starting to turn for the better. He gained respect from his peers when they observed his new skills in music class and his teachers praised him for the hard work and dedication that he put into his school work. It was clear that Anton was prioritising his schoolwork better and showed responsibility.

Anton is now in grade 4 and reaching to go to a top school in his state. He continues to work hard musically and academically. He also bought himself a bass guitar in the meantime. His mom explains that he wakes up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings just to practice his bass guitar before he goes to school.

For a fourth grader, this is amazing because it proves his responsibility, dedication, and willingness to learn and grow on his instrument. This is the dedication we need to become successful. Anton’s grades are on the rise and he arrives at school ready for the day, happy and mentally better prepared than the rest of his peers.

What a little legend!! As his teacher, I applaud his success every day.

Case Study: Lucy

Lucy (10) is a Russian girl, seeking recognition and love from her peers and teachers. She lacked confidence and self-belief. Even though I could clearly see that she is way above average, neither she nor her parents saw her this way.

Lucy’s parents decided to sign her up for piano as an extramural. This was an excellent idea since it guide her to get her mind clear from an average-performing class environment. Lucy practised and made music without hesitation. She was so inspired and motivated and kept practising.

This helped her to perform better in her schoolwork. She did not only raise her marks, but she started to achieve full marks for tests and assignments because it equals the manner in which music is performed. You would clearly hear if there’s a false note on stage, and for Lucy this made sense.

She is now the top performer in her class and she has all the options open for her life. Her teachers couldn’t be more proud of her.

Case Study: Leo

Leo (10) is an overachieving student that used his ability to perform music to win the respect of his social circles.

Leo is a student with a high IQ but struggles to fit into normal social circles. He is popular with his teachers and other clever students, but not with all the kids in his class and that bothered him.

He was already playing the piano, but Leo saw that in his math class, there was a free-standing piano and he constantly asked his teacher if he can bring his book to play to his peers. One week the teacher gave in and became curious himself. There was time on the schedule and he allowed Leo to open the piano and play something for us.

After all the wait and suspense, Leo delivered a performance that brought him more than just respect and acceptance, and that is love. His peers stood up and applaud his amazing but humble performance. The others thought that he was just the over-performing clever guy, but he spoke to people on a different level too than no one else could.

The teacher was so surprised and happy to hear this and immediately his praise and support helped Leo to achieve the respect he deserved.

A young boy practising his guitar

I can name plenty of examples of how learning an instrument has helped kids perform to their ability and grow in self-confidence. The facts don’t lie. If I can go back to being a young boy, I would certainly ask my parents to send me to music lessons. The proof is in the pudding.

Not only would I gain musical abilities for life, but also grow in confidence and balance my academic and creative sides. It’s an all-around win.

Music lessons can be expensive. Therefore a tip is to find a student that teaches par time. Students make excellent mentors and can teach basics very well to a certain level. Look for good reviews online or posters near campus to find good ones.

Once you have the basics down and would like to play with others, don’t miss the article I wrote about At Which Ability Level Should I Join a Band? It is great to start as early as you feel ready. Making music is also a team sport and one learns a lot from collaborating together.

Good luck and keep learning!

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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