Avery Molek’s drum cover of Guns & Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” is fast becoming legend, amassing more than 1.6 million views on YouTube during the past year. What makes Molek’s performance truly remarkable is that he is only seven years old.
Molek’s cover (which, if you haven’t seen, is worth a view) showcases his prodigious skills and leads one to ask – how might his command of the drums help him develop other abilities?
“The research is out there that the act of learning music will potentially help children achieve higher understanding math, science and reading,” says Nollie Moore, assistant professor of music at Columbia College of Missouri. “I think (music education) is a critical piece for intellectual, emotional and social development.”
According to a 2006 study by Dr. Laurel Trainor, professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University, children who received music instruction demonstrated “different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year” when compared to children who did not take music lessons. Trainor also found that children who took music lessons did better on memory tests measuring mathematics, verbal memory and literacy than children who did not take music lessons.
Another compelling argument for music education comes from the National Endowment for the Arts. In its 2012 study examining K-12 children, the NEA found that children in the eighth grade having high levels of arts engagement from kindergarten through elementary school scored higher on writing and science tests than their counterparts who did not have similar exposure during that time.
While a case can be made that music education might enhance a child’s ability to learn math and science, there’s more to it than that. Moore and others feel that music provides a one-of-a-kind outlet for children to express themselves, and helps children experience feelings and creativity unique to the arts.
“Music is an expression of the human experience and emotions,” Moore said. “I believe it’s important that we learn how to experience beauty and empathy. It’s part of being a healthy human being.”
Moore, who has two sons, says that while parents should be concerned with how their child is progressing in math and science, it’s important not to lose sight of the arts. “We ought to be concerned that we’re raising children that are healthy emotionally and can … express themselves emotionally. I think the arts in general allow for that, and I think music is, quite simply, built for that.”
So, if you’re looking to give your child a leg up in regard to their overall development, consider introducing them to music. Watch Molek’s video and consider replacing your child’s plastic “Rock Band” guitar with a Fender Stratocaster. Or, if they share Molek’s penchant for percussion, give your child a drum set that would make Rush’s Neil Peart green with envy. You might be amazed by the results.