Learn to Code or Play an Instrument: Which Makes Children Smarter?

Posted by  Natasha Gayle, on Nov 8, 2022 12:51:24 PM

We all want our children to be successful. As a parent, we consider what steps we can take to help them, especially with our limited schedules.

In today’s technology-driven world, you may find yourself wondering if you should let your child learn to code or play a musical instrument. Which option and skillset is best? Which option can most easily fit into your family’s busy schedule? Which option will lead them to something they are truly passionate about?

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of each and the latest study by MIT that could steer you in one direction over the other if you have to choose.


What Are the Benefits of Learning to Code?

There are many benefits to learning to code. Learning to code improves a child’s:




1. Problem-Solving Skills

Coding is all about problem-solving. As you build or correct code, you have to think through complex concepts to create a program that works.


2. Computational or Structural Thinking

Children learn to break down complex issues or problems into smaller bites. They learn to identify patterns they can manipulate to reach their end goal.



3. Persistence

Coding teaches children how to fail and keep going. Are you tired of your child trying something and quitting almost immediately when they get bored or aren’t immediately successful? Coding will push them to keep trying. You often won’t get the perfect results the first time - it’s just the nature of the field. You must try, fail, fix, fail; Keep trying until it’s right.



4. Creativity

Coders come up with solutions to problems, which requires and nurtures creativity.



5. Digital Literacy

As a child learns to code, they become digitally literate - using technology in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Rather than just consuming media; they start creating.



6. Career Potential

Developers are in high demand. Learning how to code opens the door for your child to become a software developer later in life. Efforts are being made to educate the younger generation in software development to meet the increasing demand for this job role.



7. Confidence and Communication Skills

Coding requires teamwork and communication. You have to be able to work in a group - with business owners, copywriters, marketers, etc. - to create what’s needed. As children learn to code, they grow relationally by learning to communicate with others.


What Are the Benefits of Learning to Play a Musical Instrument?

You may be sold on the benefits of learning to code for kids, but let’s take a look at the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument. Learning to play a musical instrument improves a child’s:


1. Brain Development

Studies show that learning to play a musical instrument can actually change a child’s brain structure and function for the better.

It stimulates the part of their brain that affects hearing, memory, movement and emotions.



2. Social Skills

As a child learns to play a musical instrument - especially in a group setting - they learn how to read facial expressions, listen and empathize with their peers. And they have fun learning to play!



3. Creativity

Playing a musical instrument teaches a child how to problem-solve as they play the notes on the page, keeping up with the rhythms and composition of a piece. This, in turn, improves their creativity.



4. Discipline

Learning a musical instrument requires practice and discipline to fully master it. You can’t play like Mozart overnight. But at Creative Soul, we have lots of fun ways to encourage your kids to keep at it. And we don’t force our beginner students to practice an hour every day. If they want to practice, that’s great! If they don’t, that’s fine, too. We first want to help them develop a passion for learning to play an instrument - whether that’s learning to play piano, guitar, the drums or voice lessons.



5. Confidence

There’s something about playing an instrument that boosts a child’s self-esteem. When they take the time to learn an instrument they love at in-person music lessons, they walk away with a real sense of pride and self-confidence in what they can do. Studies have found that this transfers over to other parts of their life, as well.  



6. Memory

Learning to play a musical instrument is a great way to improve your memory - whether you’re a child or grown adult. Studies have found that musicians have better memory recall than those who never learned to play. They’ve also found that when you learn to play - as an adult or child - it can lower your risk of dementia.



7. Language Development

Playing music creates stronger connections in the brain, which can improve language development in young kids. Playing piano, in particular, is a great way for children to learn how to distinguish pitch and tone, even on verbal words.



8. Coordination & Muscle Strength

When a child plays an instrument, they develop their coordination and muscle strength as they learn to properly hold an instrument and use their forearms, wrists, posture and hands to play. And each instrument (guitar, piano, drums, voice) has a certain posture or position that can help develop these strengths.



9. Time Management

As we mentioned before under discipline, learning to play an instrument takes time and practice. It’s a great way for children to learn how to manage their time - an important life skill for all areas of life. But it’s one that can easily fit into your schedule. You can determine if there’s time for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour, etc., based on your family’s schedule and how your child feels about learning to play an instrument at home.

They may just have more fun in the classroom, and that’s fine for now!



10. Stress & Anxiety

Most of us should learn how to better manage our stress and anxiety in today’s fast-paced world. Learning to play music is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety - and an amazing skill for kids to learn at a young age. Music creates a sense of calm and peace as we play and is an art of expression to express emotions and feelings.

For people who play the guitar, play the piano or sing, they learn how to express their emotions through the music they play. Those who play the drums can often get out a lot of their energy and feelings while they play that they have a hard time doing otherwise.



11. Career Potential

Stay with me here. While many parents may discourage their child from pursuing a career in music, it’s not only musical careers that learning a musical instrument can provide career potential. As we’ll explain in more detail below, learning to play a musical instrument can actually open doors in software development and other highly-sought-after career paths that require problem-solving abilities and skills.        


Why You Should Choose Music Lessons vs. Learning to Code?

Learning to code has many benefits - as previously mentioned - but the latest MIT study has found that it’s not as beneficial as originally thought - at least not when it comes to language development or math and logic skills.

Further study suggests that it’s actually music - not coding - that can be most beneficial to your child. Here’s why choosing music lessons may be the best option for your child:


1. It Makes the Brain More Connected

According to Awareness Act, “Learning music during our early life makes the brain more connected, which, in turn, makes their brains neuroloically capable of many things, not just music.”

Studies have found that musical brains can produce more structural and functional connections in those who learn music compared to those who don’t. 

2. It Leads Child to Coding Anyway

If you have to choose one pathway for your child that you hope sets them up for success, based on your busy schedule and time constraints, we recommend music lessons. Not only will it give your child all of the benefits we mentioned in the previous section, but it may actually help them learn to code later in life anyway.

As it turns out, musicians are uniquely suited to be software developers. 

One coder is quoted by Huffpost like this:

“Music, especially on the piano, forces your brain to think and your body to operate in multiple layers. This translates effectively into coding, especially as we get into building more in-depth web applications. You have to be able to know how to organize a large amount of complexity in the concepts you’re learning, and to triage and prioritize an overwhelming amount of information at one time.”


Help your child get connected to music. At Creative Soul Music School, we work with busy parents and families to help them find a class that works with their schedule. We also want kids to love to play music, which is why we have great ways to teach them how to play a musical instrument - whether they want to play the drums, guitar, piano or sing; we have it all at Creative Soul!


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