Music And Mindfulness

When you first start playing an instrument, it can be extremely frustrating, without a doubt. If you’re considering encouraging your children to pick up a musical vocation, one of the most important things you can do is encourage them to take it slow. You may be subjecting yourself to a few months of noise pollution before you hear any discernable melodies, but that’s a small price to pay for a lifelong artistic outlet.

Performing music has a certain magic to it that can be seen as an antidote to today’s hyper-accelerated digital culture. A piano or a guitar isn’t connected to the Internet (surely these inventions are not far off), and once your child masters a few basic scales and chords, they may find the activity extremely calming and meditative.

Studies have shown that there is an overall increase in the anxiety of young people today, largely due to the fact that they are overstimulated and glued to their smartphones. While asking them to sit and meditate for thirty minutes may not be realistic, convincing them to play the guitar or piano is a good alternative.

Not only does learning an instrument build confidence, it also offers an activity that encourages one to be present in the moment. Performing music gives the mind a precise exercise to focus on and produces sounds that can elicit a positive emotional response. When you enroll your kids in music lessons with a reliable teacher, you not only start them down a path that can lead to any number of careers or side-gigs; you also provide them with a tool to calm their overstimulated minds and help them feel more at home in their own skin.

Mindfulness is loosely defined as the process of bringing attention to experiences and phenomena that are happening in the present moment. As an adult and parent, the practice of meditation, yoga or even playing music yourself can help you experience the wonder of being a parent in a spontaneous, less rigid way. If you play an instrument, you may feel compelled to try and collaborate with your kid, and while this can have a positive outcome, you should definitely take you cues from them – if they’re at a sensitive point in their development you could spoil them on music for years to come.

Interestingly enough, studies also show that sometimes musicians who have trained too much as children lack the ability to improvise or perform in a way that brings them pleasure. As with mindfulness, performing music for fun must have a relaxed spontaneous feeling, or else it can become burdensome. In the same way that anxiety can be defined as being too aware of one’s own thoughts, if you are too aware of what you are doing on an instrument, it can work against you and become stressful.

When you are trained enough to be able to play competently, but relaxed enough to stay loose and improvise, you are in the sweet spot of music and mindfulness. As you perform and pay attention to the harmonious sounds you are creating, worries about the past and future melt away. So give your kids a tool to calm their anxious brains – they’ll need it.