Illinois Association for Gifted Children
How can music instruction support my child with advanced learning needs?
Are you looking for enrichment opportunities to support growth and development for a child with advanced learning needs? If your school or community offers music instruction and your child is interested in learning a musical instrument, here are 10 reasons why music instruction may be an opportunity of “special note”:
1. Music has been associated with cognitive benefits. Learning an instrument is associated with positive cognitive benefits and learning dispositions at different stages of a child’s development. Some of these include memory, language skills, and focus (Collins, A., 2021).
2. Learning a musical instrument helps children to recognize the connection between effort, practice and success. As with learning athletics or any artistic skill, music requires practice and repetition. A measure of music may need to be practiced slowly at first to master the notes, and then gradually be played at faster tempos and/or with dynamics to blossom into music. Practicing is one way that children can recognize that growth and mastery results from continued effort, and celebrate the results as their playing incrementally improves.
3. Learning music helps children to develop focus. Practicing music and listening carefully to music requires attention and focus. Young children may begin learning an instrument with the ability to focus for only a few minutes. As time progresses, teachers and parents can encourage children to practice/listen for a more sustained period of time. So, music becomes a medium through which children learn to pay attention for sustained periods.
4. Music provides an opportunity for children to develop performance skills. When children become accustomed to performing in front of audiences and have positive experiences doing so, they become more comfortable with performing in front of others. This confidence can carry over to public speaking, participating in class, and/or drama. (In order to help students gain this confidence by introducing performance as a fun, but not a stressful experience, teachers should ensure that they have thoroughly mastered the music they are performing and have the opportunity to perform before a supportive audience.)
5. Music teaches that mistakes are a part of learning, and that perfection is not needed for a successful performance. Though musicians strive for excellence, the essence of practice requires addressing mistakes and perfecting skills that may feel “rusty” at first. Moreover, there is no perfect performance. When a mistake is made, musicians learn that the “show must go on” and though it may not be perfect, can still be enjoyed for its beauty. In order to produce a beautiful performance, music requires persistence and grit.
6. Music provides a creative outlet. Music provides a creative outlet. Students can express a range of emotions, artistry, and technique through music, which opens doors and encourages creativity.
7. Music is collaborative and teaches listening and cooperation skills. Successfully performing in a band, orchestra, choir or ensemble requires actively listening to other musicians, watching the conductor, and collaborating meaningfully with others. When playing in a group, musicians need to help one another, blend with one another’s sound and volume, and build on each others’ strengths, and share a common vision. Accordingly, music instruction strengthens collaboration skills.
8. Music is a window through which children can experience the beauty of diverse cultures. When children are exposed to music that represents different cultures, eras, and styles, they have an opportunity to develop appreciation, not only music from their own cultures, but from those of others as well. Music is a universal language through which children can recognize, enjoy and share diverse talents, gifts that reflect diverse cultures, experiences, and perspectives.
9.Playing music provides an outlet for relaxation, stress relief, and joy. When faced with academic challenges, struggles, and life’s daily struggles, pulling out an instrument and playing a favorite song can provide comfort and joy.
10. Music allows children to experience the joy of sharing their talents with others. By sharing the gift of music, children can see the smiles that it brings. It teaches that using one's gifts and talents to bring joy to others is one of the most wonderful gifts of all.
Although "one size enrichment does not fit all," music offers tremendous benefits for those children who embrace it. If music "strikes a chord" with your advanced learner, it may be time to give it a try!
Illinois Association for Gifted Children
1500 Sullivan Road
Aurora, IL 60506
Ph: 630-907-5047Fax: 630-907-5976
Email us at: