Life Style

What music teaches children

“With music, the world is more beautiful. “ These few words sound like a slogan and yet come from the deepest, released with sincerity and spontaneity by a 10-year-old girl. Lina has been practicing the violin for three years in the conservatory of her small town of Essonne, a conservatory that she considers to be her “Second house”. “When I play, I don’t think anymore. Especially in concert. It’s as if I gave a part of myself ”, she opens.

Béatrice also had the chance to benefit, as a child, from a musical education. “When I started college, I joined a class with flexible hours. This allowed me to get out of the city of Seine-Saint-Denis where I lived and where my mother was a teacher. This was a factor of social and cultural openness. It also taught me discipline ”, remembers the one who still practices singing in an amateur choir today. “A breath of fresh air. “ And more: “It strengthens my self-confidence, including in professional relationships”, notes Béatrice, executive at a public transport operator.

Having become a mother, Béatrice offered her two daughters to live a similar experience. The youngest, 12 years old, piano and voice, is educated in Paris in a class with flexible hours. Just like her older sister, who also sings and plays the flute, was in college.

Presence of the spirit and mastery of the body

“She is reluctant to stop this instrument next year, which gives her a lot of work and stress, to concentrate on singing”, Beatrice slips. “Music in any case brings him a lot. My daughter sometimes lingers in high school to record, just for fun, songs with her friends. Without the use of words or images, this means of expression suits him well ”, she notes.

Musical practice also responds, more broadly, to the challenges of an era in the grip of the tyranny of the virtual and the instantaneous. “It requires concentration, full presence of the mind, a mastery of the body which helps the child or teenager to become aware of himself”, argues Xavier Delette, director of the conservatory with regional influence in Paris.

“It thus offers a valuable rebalancing in relation to the demands of the screens”, resumes this conductor. “All the more so since learning to sing or learn an instrument is a rare opportunity to take a long time, to learn perseverance. It often takes weeks or even months to truly appropriate a score. A challenge that our students take up with pleasure ”, insists Xavier Delette.

A taste of effort

A “challenge”, a term that Lina, at the height of her 10 years, will not challenge. “With each new song, I tell myself that I won’t make it. Then I scramble a bit to pick up my violin three or four times a week, and I end up getting there ”, she confides with pride.

Even if it increasingly includes a playful dimension, learning in a conservatory develops or at least requires a taste for effort. This sometimes has the consequence of discouraging some students, keeping them away from any musical practice. However, there are other solutions (private lessons, associations or private schools, etc.), depending on the grants and territories, to introduce your child to music, taking into account his wishes and his capacity for commitment.

In any case, affirms the teacher-researcher in cognitive sciences Emmanuel Bigand (1), “Every child has the skills to participate in musical games, strike rhythms, invent songs”. And “It is not necessary to aim for excellence to reap the fruits of a musical practice”.

Tangible effects on education

“By analyzing quantities of studies covering significant cohorts, we can conclude that music has a positive effect on cognitive abilities (memory, attention, reasoning, etc.), which has repercussions on academic success, continues this member of the Institut universitaire de France. It is estimated, for example, that students who take two hours of a recreational music workshop each week improve their academic performance as much as students who do several hours of weekly schoolwork at home. In other words, the benefit of music is as great as that of homework. “

Likewise, “Two hours of musical awakening in the large kindergarten section facilitate learning in CP, even if we stop teaching music there”. Other contribution: “Music promotes the development of emotional and social intelligence, as well as the construction of personality. “

Many of these benefits have been observed in the framework of the Démos project, a program with a social vocation which focuses on the introduction to music by the orchestra. “Even before the introduction of the score, in the second year, children begin to learn an instrument, which is given to them for three years”, says Indiana Wollman, research coordinator at the Philharmonie de Paris, partner of the project. “Each of the 45 orchestras brings together around 100 children aged 7 to 12 from priority neighborhoods in the city or from rural areas. With a professional musician, the young people rehearse twice a week in groups of 15 and all together once every month and a half, in order to prepare for a concert, given in an emblematic place of their territory. “

Research in human and social sciences or cognitive sciences carried out on the Démos project shows multiple benefits, summarizes Indiana Wollman: “A significant increase in the intelligence quotient (IQ) of participants, especially among those who initially had a low IQ, an improvement in attention skills, a deconstruction of cultural prejudices and a diversification of tastes … The collective dimension of the practice – which calls for the capacities of imitation and synchronization with others – also helps to develop empathy. “

At school, priority to vocal practice

A group practice to which the national education also gives priority, from primary to the end of middle school, relying on the most common of instruments: the voice. “Since 2007, the recorder has ended, which for college students was the only individual practice”, traces Inspector General Vincent Maestracci. “One of the goals is to teach students to produce music together. And vocal practice quickly offers rewarding results ”, he assures.

The other axis lies in “The ability to listen and the acquisition of a musical culture, with a repertoire much more open than in the past, with classical but also jazz, rock, techno, world music …”, continues Vincent Maestracci. For him, the school has a major responsibility, that of “To lay the groundwork allowing each pupil to develop their knowledge in a world characterized by the hyper abundance and the formidable accessibility of recorded music”.

A wealth of resources that parents can also use to introduce their children to music. “Even if they don’t know it! “, insists Denisa Kerschova, producer and presenter of the program “Allegretto”, on France Musique, which offers special programming for children on Wednesday mornings.

“Discovery workshops, library and media libraries, sites of institutions such as the Philharmonie de Paris … There are many possibilities for placing music – especially classical – within the reach of children, to make them discover how the orchestra works. before going to the concert. “ The whole being of “Do not approach this repertoire as something sacred ”, emphasizes Denisa Kerschova, but to make music “An object of sharing, a privileged time with family”.


Resources to share with the family

France Musique offers multiple resources for music education.

Home music school

How to organize music school at home, from early years to high school? What works and what readings to offer to awaken your child to music? How to support your child in his musical practice? A complete file to introduce music into the daily life of the family.

Sharing knowledge

Understanding music is also knowing it from the inside, with its instruments and their little secrets. Walk in this fabulous world through playlists and programs to listen to.

To escape

World music, worlds of music. A selection dedicated to travel: to meet distant lands and their music as it is practiced and experienced elsewhere.


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