Listening to pop music is surprisingly beneficial for young music lovers and learners. Here are three reasons why...
So you’ve decided it’s time for your child to learn an instrument and begin their music education!
As a parent choosing music for your child to start learning on, you may first turn to Classical music. This is a typical genre of choice, and for good reason. It can form a strong foundation for musical knowledge, build a child’s listening ‘ear’, and open the door to a variety of skills.
Parents often share their concerns that their child is only interested in pop music – at the expense of their classical practice.
We understand the worry – is pop music somehow simpler and therefore devalued? Is it the musical equivalent of giving kids fast food? Might it be somehow harmful?
Thankfully, the record shows that pop and rock music are surprisingly beneficial for young music lovers and learners. Here are three reasons why:
It’s easy to get started with pop
As many parents will also know, kids will come back from school humming the latest DNCE or Taylor Swift song, despite how much Mozart you may play for them in the car!
Well, pop music is popular for a reason – it usually has a simpler structure and is written for broad appeal, making it more accessible for younger children who may not be as drawn to classical yet.
Given that pop music is everywhere, it can be easier to channel your child’s natural interest and engage them with learning. For example, you can show them some simple chord progressions on a guitar, or a basic clapping beat to a song.
This makes listening more interactive, and is a great way to burn up some of their excess energy too.
Starting with music learning in pop genres can also be affordable. A brand new beginners’ ukulele is under S$70, a mini cajon (a box that you use to practice rhythm/percussion) can be bought for around S$40.
Because these instruments are small and portable, you can even take these lessons outside to fun places like the Botanical Gardens or Marina Bay for a family outing.
Engaging with pop music builds a variety of transferrable skills – even in maths and science!
There are many studies from global universities that show the benefits of learning music from a young age, regardless of the genre.
Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine who is also a practicing musician, says that ‘musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent’.
A recent study from Northwestern University also showed that students who played instruments in class had more improved neural processing, as compared to children who attended a music appreciation group – a non-active participation group.
Playing any instrument teaches children about broader theories around physics and mathematical patterns, like how sound travels through space, and how the ear processes harmonies and pitch changes.
Instruments help enhance coordination, develop ambidexterity and hone timing and rhythm. Another study, led by professors at Harvard Medical School and Boston College found that students in a 15-week period who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor skills.
So if pop music provides the first access point to begin unlocking these skills – why not try it?
The truth is: It’s all about what your child enjoys (so long as it’s age-appropriate of course)!
We know the headaches that parents go through when junior wants to listen to ‘Let it Go’, ‘Call me Maybe’ or ‘Shake it Off’ for the 1000th time! Why not take these opportunities to open the door to broader music experiences?
Try movie soundtracks, music games, radio, artist performances on YouTube, or outdoor concerts. Exposing kids to a variety of musical sources and environments to stimulate their different senses is beneficial in the long run.
At the end of the day, we’ve seen from the kids that have come through our studio doors that they have their own personalities, with individual needs and wants.
The best thing we can do as mentors is help them with structured exploration, by providing exposure and encouraging learning. If pop music is one way of doing that, why not engage with it.