Astonishing Affects of Music Involvement for Kids

Updated: Jan 6


Ryan Carney, Associate Director of the Kaneland Youth Orchestra, conducts their Spring Concert, April 2018

Kids who get it.

Music is a healing power that can have astonishing effects on the brain.  It can bridge speech patterns back together and help to balance emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.  Ryan will help us to explore the effects of music on the brain and how it can improve test scores, regain memory loss, reduce anxiety and more.


There's something about sharing music with kids that inspires me. The look on their face when they hear something they never considered possible, or the way they glow in self-amazement when they see how a new technique can immediately change the way they play and sound. Techniques I've developed over the past 30 years don't often come so easy for kids learning how to play. But their excitement to learn fuels my drive to teach. It becomes a cycle that yields faster improvement and further motivation. There are so many statistics that support the criticality of music in a child's life.

  • Schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2% graduation rate and 93.9% attendance rate compared to schools without music education, which average 72.9% graduation and 84.9% attendance.

  • A Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory.

  • Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.

  • Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.

Beyond the teaching aspect of private lessons I like to think that when I'm working with kids I serve multiple purposes including that of a role model they can trust and look up to, have fun and laugh with and offer guidance and life-skills. There are many parallels between learning to become proficient at music and how to study for school or how to approach difficult concepts like time management, prioritization and accountability. Playing in a band or orchestra is a team sport that requires a matured perspective of how each instrument fits or balances into the sound of the ensemble. Learning an instrument and how to incorporate that into a group setting requires unique skills that fundamentally help with team building and collaboration, not to mention confidence and self-esteem.


My private music studio for cello and bass is all about keeping music fun. If it's not fun and inventive, you're doing it wrong. Even scales and rudimentary exercises can easily be fun to play. It just takes a little creativity and an open mind. After all, scales are the building blocks of music. They're everywhere.


Ryan visits local elementary schools to give young kids an opportunity to see, hear and touch string instruments, the same way he was recruited into music when he was just eight years old.

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© 2020 by Ryan Carney