I recently ran across this article extolling the benefits of a musical education: http://mic.com/articles/108022/science-just-discovered-something-amazing-about-what-childhood-piano-lessons-did-to-you .
Music teachers always talk about how music helps kids get smarter. And without necessarily the science to back it up, there are some specific things that it is obvious that studying music teaches.
Grit. Music is a difficult art form. When you truly study it, and not just play around, you learn the value of sticking to something. You understand in a visceral way, because you experience it yourself, how you can improve by practicing. You learn when to continue on your own, and when to ask for help. You learn that just because something is hard, you don’t have to give up.
Pattern-based reasoning. Music teaches a number of different kinds of patterns. There are rhythmic patterns and melodic patterns. When students study Janta varisai and dattu varisai, they learn about sequences and how the notes relate to one another. When they study alankarams, they can see how these sequences can be modified and applied to different talams. When they study varnams, they learn that certain phrases appear in certain ragas and naturally apply the pattern when they see those notes. All of this trains the mind to spot patterns, which is a very important life skill.
Memory. When we require our students to memorize music, we are teaching them a very important life skill of how to learn and memorize things. Just like with anything else, if you have practiced memorization you get good at memorization. Training the mind to do this is very helpful to anybody in their life.
So we already thought that the study of music helps children with important life skills. But this article actually says that studying music can actually make us better and happier people. Studying music develops the part of the brain associated with “attention skill, anxiety management, and emotional control.” The longer that children studied music, the more this part of the brain was developed. We all know that music can make us feel happier – and now science is showing us that it’s not just our imagination. Musical training affects brain development in a very real and positive way.