Harmonizing skills and fun

Harmonizing Skills and Fun: The Benefits of Music Camps for Kids

Jackrabbit Class is excited to include this guest post from David Watkins of PlanMyKids.

I remember being in elementary school when the music department visited each classroom to discuss the importance of music education and to recruit an entire group of kids to sign up and play an instrument. We were all told to think about which instrument we wanted to play and come back the next day to report our choices. Most of my friends wanted to play the “cool” instruments (at least to a 10-year-old), like the drums or trumpet. As for me, I wanted to play the violin. I liked the sound the violin made, and it was usually front and center in symphonies. As I joined the line to get measured for my violin, the teacher looked at my tall, lanky frame and said, “I think you should play the cello.” The cello is a fine instrument, certainly popularized today by famous artists like Yo-Yo Ma. But as a young kid, all I could think about was the challenge of lugging this huge instrument on the bus each day to and from school! Alas, I missed my chance to play an instrument at an early age.

Both my kids play instruments, guitar and piano. I’ve seen the benefits that playing these instruments have had on their lives socially, mentally and personally. I’d like to make the case for why you should consider pursuing music for your kids. In this blog we’ll explore the benefits of music education and camps as well as provide some guidance to choosing a music camp for your kids.

The Cognitive and Emotional Benefits of Music Education

Have you ever wondered why music feels so magical, especially for our kids? It’s not just about the melodies or the rhythms; it’s about how music lights up their world in ways we’re just beginning to understand. Music education actually has a profound impact on kids’ brains and hearts.

Brain Boosts in Every Note

Imagine your child’s brain as a garden. Music is like the sunshine and rain, helping everything grow beautifully.  Studies1,2 show that when kids get into music, whether they’re tapping to the beat, singing their hearts out, or learning to play an instrument, their brains get a fantastic workout. It’s like brain gymnastics, improving memory, attention, and even language skills. Who knew that playing the piano or violin could make learning math or reading a bit easier?

The Heart of the Matter: Emotional Tunes

Music is also a special key to unlocking emotions. It allows kids to express joy, sadness, excitement, or calmness in a way words sometimes can’t. This emotional dance helps them understand their own feelings and the feelings of others, building a bridge of empathy and connection. Your child may even use music as a coping skill.  It’s amazing how a simple song can teach our kids to be more in tune with themselves and the world around them.

Social Skills Development Through Music Camps

Let’s chat about something super cool that happens at music camps, something that goes way beyond just hitting the right notes or keeping the beat. It’s all about how these camps turn into places where kids blossom socially while having fun.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Picture this: kids coming together, each with their own instrument, ready to create something beautiful. It’s not just about playing music; it’s about listening to each other, blending sounds, and creating harmony. This is where teamwork kicks in. Music camps teach kids that every note they play, and every beat they hit, is part of a bigger story. It’s like being on a sports team, but instead of passing balls, they’re passing musical cues.

Talking Loud and Clear

Now, imagine a place where kids learn to share their musical ideas, give kind feedback, and chat about their favorite songs. That’s the heart of communication at music camps. It’s not just talk; it’s about connecting, understanding, and sometimes even solving musical mysteries together. This back-and-forth isn’t just good for music; it’s a life skill that helps kids make friends, work well with others, and be awesome classmates and family members.

Walking in Someone Else's Musical Shoes

Music has this incredible power to express feelings without saying a word, and at music camps, kids get to explore this together. They learn to understand and feel what their friends are playing or singing, which is a beautiful way to build empathy. It’s like opening a door to understanding others’ joys, sorrows, and hopes. And guess what? This empathy doesn’t stop when the music fades. It helps kids be more caring and supportive friends in all areas of life.

The Confidence to Take the Stage

Here’s the cherry on top: music camps give kids a stage to shine on, sometimes literally! Performing in front of others can be super scary, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Each time they step up to perform, they’re not just sharing music; they’re growing a little taller in confidence. A confidence that can spill over into school presentations, new friendships, and all sorts of performative adventures.

A Break From Digital Overload

Let’s take a moment to talk about something I bet we’ve all felt at some point—screen fatigue. Yes, that endless scroll on tablets, phones, and computers. Now, imagine a place where the screens go dark, and the music turns up. Welcome to the digital detox zone, also known as music camp.

Unplugging to Tune In

Music camps are like a breath of fresh air in our digitally saturated lives. They invite kids to put down their gadgets and pick up instruments, engaging in the kind of hands-on, interactive fun that screens just can’t replicate. It’s here, in these tech-free zones, that kids get to experience the joy of making music—the touch of piano keys, the strum of a guitar, and the beat of a drum. It’s all about getting back to the basics and rediscovering the joy of creativity and physical activity.

Focus, Focus, Focus

One of the best gifts music camps offer is the chance to focus deeply without the interruption of notifications. Whether it’s mastering a new melody or collaborating on a group performance, kids learn the art of concentration—a skill that’s becoming rare in our multitasked, distracted world. This focused time not only improves their musical abilities but also teaches them the value of being present and fully engaged in whatever they’re doing.

Choosing the Right Music Camp

Alright, let’s talk about something super important but a bit daunting—picking the perfect music camp for your child. With so many options out there, how do you find the one that hits the right note for your family? Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered with some friendly advice to make this decision a little easier.

Finding Your Child's Musical Match

First things first, think about what makes your child’s heart sing. Are they all about rocking out on the electric guitar, or do they dream of mastering classical piano (or cello; I learned later that kids with cellos were able to leave their instruments at school)? Each music camp has its own vibe and specialty, from jazz to choir to electronic music production. Finding a camp that aligns with your child’s interests and aspirations is key to ensuring they’ll have an experience that resonates with them.

Skill Level Love

Music camps can cater to different skill levels. It’s super important to choose a camp that matches where your child is at musically. Some camps are perfect for beginners, offering a gentle introduction to music fundamentals, while others are designed for young virtuosos ready to take their skills to the next level. Ensuring the camp is a good fit for your child’s current abilities will help them feel confident and challenged in all the right ways.

The Camp Culture

Every music camp has its own unique culture and atmosphere. Some are all about rigorous practice and perfection, while others might focus more on creativity, collaboration, and exploration. Think about where your child will thrive. Do they need a structured environment, or would they bloom in a more relaxed setting? Sometimes, chatting with camp alumni or attending an open house can give you a great feel for the camp’s vibe.

The Practical Stuff

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Location, duration, and cost are biggies when choosing a camp. Do you need something close to home, or is your child ready for an overnight adventure? Also, consider how long the camp runs. A week-long camp might be a great start for newbies, while a multi-week intensive could be just the ticket for more dedicated musicians. And, of course, there’s the budget. Be on the lookout for scholarships or early bird discounts that can make camps more affordable.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve journeyed through the vibrant world of music camps, we’ve uncovered a symphony of benefits that extend far beyond the music sheets. It’s evident that these experiences offer invaluable opportunities for growth, learning, and joy. From cognitive enhancements and emotional expressions to the development of social skills and the essential break from our digitally dominated lives, music camps present a unique environment where children can thrive.

Whether your child is destined for the concert hall or simply seeking a new adventure, the world of music camps offers a unique opportunity to explore, grow, and discover. They’ll create many memories, likely starting stories with ‘one day at band camp’! I missed my early opportunity, don’t let your kids miss theirs. As you consider the possibilities for your kids, think about making a choice that will make your child’s heart sing. Here’s to finding that perfect note, to the joy of music, and to the incredible journey of growth it promises for our children.

Author Biography

David Watkins

David is a father of two and the founder of PlanMyKids, a concierge platform designed to help parents find and plan activities for their children. He writes about parenting tips and activity resources for the PlanMyKids’ blog and hosts the Parenting Pioneers Podcast. In his podcast, he guides his audience through the vibrant communities of urban life, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing today’s working parents.

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