The Secret Power of Music Lessons

October 6, 2023

For many families in Highland Park and Highwood, their Park District is the place for recreation and healthy activities, including music lessons!

Ask Sonia Rochon, and she’ll focus on something you might not think of as what we do here: how much her son Desmond loves taking piano lessons at the Park District! Sonia and her family moved to Highland Park from Chicago in 2019. In addition to taking other fun classes at West Ridge Center, Desmond, who is now in 4th grade, has been studying piano for the past year. “He really likes his teacher,” said Sonia. We hear that a lot about our teachers, and it’s something we’re quite proud of. “He’s come a long way in a short time,” said Sonia, “and I feel like he’s gotten a great start for everything moving forward.”

She also agreed with some other things that music educators have always known, and that we stress in our program: learning to read music is akin to learning and communicating in another language, and playing an instrument activates parts of the brain that are strikingly different than the ones we use when listening to music. That can help students, of any age, be more successful in other areas of academics and socialization. Research on the neurobiological effects of music on the brain has shown that the process by which we hear and interpret musical sounds is quite complex and that different types of music, and different musical instruments, activate different areas of the brain. So, while you have always known that playing piano, guitar, or violin is certainly a physical activity with great benefits to manual dexterity, and a mental activity that increases your ability to concentrate and memorize, now you can add brain development to the reasons why taking lessons is good for your health and happiness1. Sweet!

Of course, we never forget that music lessons at the Park District are fun! Check them out and we think you’ll agree.

1 Here is some extra special “This is your brain on music” fun: Dr. David Silbersweig of the Harvard Medical School has written about these specific areas of the brain and what they do as far as playing and listening to music: The temporal lobe helps us understand tone and pitch. Our cerebellum helps us process rhythm and timing. The amygdala and hippocampus are responsible for emotions and memory.