Pros and Cons of Music Education In School For Kids

Kids can be an incredible resource, especially when you have a group of international, trilingual, and open-minded individuals to give feedback about their four years of experience in learning music during their elementary school careers.

I have asked my students (between 8 and 10 years old) what they like about music and the advantages of learning music. They have regular music lessons in the school curriculum format and many of them also participate in individual instrument lessons as an extra-mural activity.

The main advantages of learning music in schools are that the students learn core music skills like reading sheet music, keeping a rhythm, and learning how to play an instrument of their choice. They also love learning about music history and doing research about their own artists and idols.

Before we discuss these in a little more depth, perhaps you’d also be interested in my article about Why Teachers Use Music In Their Classrooms.

The Advantages of Music Education in Schools According to Kids

We learn how to sing

Kids love singing. Quite often when they are busy doing creative work, they will even start singing songs they know.

Learning to sing means practising together in a choir format, keeping notes, and feeling part of a unit when they sing together when they see vocal effects like polyphony and harmonising.

Learning To Play an Instrument

Kids are born learners and we just need to provide them with the needed tools for them to build their skill sets.

De Wet Kruger

The most popular instruments that my kids like to learn are:

  • The guitar
  • The piano
  • The Violin
  • Drumming

Sometimes you just know which instrument will fit a certain student, but quite often it is a challenge to know which one to start with.

To help you with this decision, I wrote an article about Comparing Instruments for Kids to Learn: Which Option is the Best? which would guide you through the process of choosing the best instrument for your child.

A student practising piano with his music teacher (Photo Credit: Canva)

We Learn to Read Sheet Music

Kids love learning things that adults don’t have much knowledge about, and let’s be honest, only a small percentage of adults know how to read sheet music.

The kids learn to read notes in a playful and fun manner, and in this process, they also get to understand which notes fit together to make a family. This is the start and the basics of learning music theory.

Learn new songs

Kids enjoy learning new songs that they can sing together. This creates a feeling of coherence and comradery. They will often use these familiar songs during sports events or write their own to fit the purpose of an event.

The psychological theory around music being stuck in one’s mind is also an interesting one. I wrote an article about Why You Can’t Stop Listening To That One Song if you’d like to scan through it.

This article was written and published by De Wet from on 23.08.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere other than on my website.

A music teacher teaching a new song to a group of kids (Photo credit: Canva)

To Learn About New Artists and their History

Kids love to discover and figure things out by themselves. If you give them the tools to create a project with pictures, presentation and constructive feedback from their peers, they will grow in knowledge and presentation skills altogether.

Opportunity for Parent Performance

The main reason that we learn and practice music is to finally end up performing it. Never give the kids a feeling that they are learning a song and not going to end up performing it. We all should learn knowing that we are just a practice away from the next performance.

Your performance will only be as good as your last practice.

De Wet Kruger

Often we have a societal problem where parents struggle to understand how to behave at such performance evenings. I wrote an article about The Correct Etiquette For an Audience During a School Concert that will support you in guiding your parents to the appropriate and expected behaviour to the benefit of their children.

Talent Development

I’ve walked into rooms where the music teachers are practising kids playing the guitar with each other, teaching them how to harmonise or sing with the guitar playing of another student.

Where kids can be taken out of their comfort zones and try something that they never have is the development of talent. Where they learn to cope with unfamiliar territories.

Kids love this because they know that each lesson will be unique and they will go home with new skills learnt.

The Disadvantages of Music Education in Schools According to Kids

It is key to know that kids will see something as negative or as a disadvantage when it doesn’t suit their propaganda or they have underdeveloped musical skills.

I see this often with my more mature and sporty boys. They will often start to get lazy or distracted.

The best solution here is to give these individuals a more important role to play during the lessons or activities. They should be the announcers or the event organisers.

The extra responsibility is sometimes exactly what they need to stay engaged and feel part of the team.

Here are some of the disadvantages my students mentioned which can also be seen as excuses that contribute to their unwillingness:

Interrupt with other teaching time

This is especially applicable to students who find it hard to shift their structured environment to a less structured and creative environment.

Let’s be honest: They should also learn how to adapt and how to deal with different circumstances.

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD and you’d like to understand the connection they have with music, check out my post about ADHD and Music: A Functioning Relationship.

It’s time-consuming

Many of the students get bored and struggle to find the enjoyment of music education just because they’ve not yet found the appreciation for it and they see it as a waste of time.

When you work with a big group of kids in a class, it can be challenging to keep them occupied.

Possible solutions to integrate them are:

  • To sing a song that they have an interest in
  • To bring older students into the class who went through the same challenges but then had a change of heart to mentor and motivate a change of perspective.

Emotional Draining

The sad thing is that in many schools, the music lessons are planned for the afternoon when the kids are already tired and emotionally overstimulated. For the kids to be handed over to the music teacher has its fair share of stumbling stones.

Since music is a creative subject, use this to your advantage and teach music through movement. Let them dance, or figure out their own dances to songs.

Another possible solution could be to let the kids research projects about their idols and present them to the class. The advantage to this is that it could also take between 3-6 teaching hours to complete and you can give them a variety of marks for their research, creativity, presentations and extras.

It does not interest all kids

As a matter of fact, not all kids will have the aptitude for music. They simply have no idea and no interest at all. These can be serious cases to deal with since motivation is not the problem.

I usually give these guys something to do that goes parallel with their top interests. For instance, to set a playlist together for a sports day. Or to find a song that will describe each other students respectfully as a stadium entrance song for the presentations.

This will occupy them for the duration of the time and they will feel appreciated and that they contributed to the lesson actively.

Enforced curriculum

The beauty of life is that we have freedom and choices about what we would like to do and what we would like to learn.

When a certain curriculum is enforced onto people who can’t deal with this topic, then it has a negative effect on the subject as a whole.

A suggestion is that even though we need to teach kids the basis of music theory and music history etc., stick to teaching one short core piece that’s relevant to the syllabus and that they know will be test material, and then move over to the fund and more creative things to add colour to the theory.

Once the kids see the rhythm of your lessons, they will start to look forward to what you have to offer them. Kids get into a routine rapidly and they will give you back the joy and reward of well-planned lessons if you prove to also take care of their needs.

Forcing anybody to do anything is never a good idea. So just keep that in mind if you need to achieve your goals but your kids are unwilling.

I wrote a post about Forcing Your Child to Play an Instrument means Raising a Rebel which you can find here.

Mental Unreadiness For New Music

People are not always ready to listen to new music at certain stages or emotional phases that they find themselves in.

It can often be that these kids end up being rebellious about the newly introduced music and you can expect some pushback from your students.

Feel free to read my blog about Why You Have a Hard Time Listening to New Music for a clear understanding.

What do kids generally like about music?

So I asked my kids: “What do you guys actually like about music?”

Their answers gave me a direction of their expectations for the year. I used this information to plan my lessons and to offer the kids the opportunity to enjoy music the way that they believe music should be taught:

  • Music is calming
    • This is so true. And for kids to realise that music can make them calm means that they are a well-reflective group.
    • I make use of this info to let them meditate before lessons so that they can get focused and relaxed.
  • Music makes us feel strong and independent
    • I think what they meant is that one can learn human behaviour through music, especially through experiences that other musicians went through in their lives.
  • Music has rhythm
    • Kids love to look good and them to present good accurate rhythm and dancing skills sets them up for a prepared teenager phase where it matters how you look and how you move.
  • Music has a variety of genres
    • The kids have learned that all people like different genres of music and they like the variation of it.
    • This is a great project idea: to let all the kids research and present different genres of music.
Kids enjoying a variety of instruments (Photo credit: Canva)

Our Goal As Music Teachers

To end off, I want to remind you about what our end goal is as music teachers:

  • We want to inspire kids with music
  • We want to influence them to use music as a helpful tool in life
  • We want to have as many of our students practice a musical instrument outside of school hours
  • We want our kids to have mentors and role models to inspire and support them on their journeys.
  • We want to discover the next Bon Jovi or Roxett of the modern era.

You have the power to reach this goal and be the one person who stands out in their lives.

Perhaps you’d also be interested in reading about The Advantages and Disadvantages of Music In Our Daily Lives next!

Until next time Teachers!

Rock ‘n Roll

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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