New Apostolic Church USA

The Gift of Music

"The Benefits of Musical Training for Children and Youth" from the 2020 Autumn Vision Newsletter

Our children and youth are both the present and the future. The Lord Jesus made the importance of children clear when He brought a child into the midst of His disciples and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:1-5).

Christ shows us here that we need to see our children as important today, not only ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. Their love, joy, compassion and serving can have a mighty impact on the church right now, and their childlike faith and trust in God is to be an example for people in all seasons of life.

If our children and youth are to be the future ministers, choir and worship leaders, accompanists, small group facilitators and Sunday school teachers, are we equipping them today in such a way that they will have the tools and skillsets they need to lead the church into the future?

Let’s look at the music and worship side of things. The average age of our current accompanists, choir leaders and instrumentalists is higher than we’d probably care to admit. This should be cause for action. Can we only rely on the assumption that perhaps others will come to do this special work? How will these musical roles be filled in the future?

Mentoring is one answer. It’s important that those currently serving in these roles take children and youth who show musical potential under their wings. The music leaders of today have the responsibility to motivate, encourage, and inspire future generations of music leaders.

Another answer is through music lessons and training. In the past, significant emphasis was placed on this. As mentioned in a 2011 Vision newsletter, in the early 1960s, Bishop William Fendt communicated with the parents of Sunday school children and suggested that they provide their children with piano lessons. This wise advice led to an entire generation of future pianists and organists within our congregations. During their tenure, the District Apostles Wagner and Freund also promoted a music program of concert choirs and orchestras.

Why did these men of God place such an emphasis on music? They did so because they recognized the value of it for the children, youth, and church.

Here are a few of the many individual benefits of music lessons and training for children:

  • It boosts young brains. Immersing children in music can help boost their brainpower. Numerous studies have proven that children’s IQs increase after even a few weeks of music lessons.
  • It helps build language skills. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. Musical training physically develops the left side of the brain that processes language.
  • It makes one stronger academically. Researchers have found connections between music lessons and nearly every measure of academic achievement: SAT scores, high school GPA, reading comprehension, and math skills.
  • It teaches discipline and perseverance. Most children aren’t musical prodigies like Mozart. Things like piano fingering, trumpet embouchure, and violin technique often take a considerable amount of time and energy to master. Music lessons require considerable concentration and patience. They also force children to learn how to persevere even when things aren’t going well—an invaluable skill for all areas of life.
  • It builds confidence and brings joy. As children develop music skills, and improve upon these skills through repetition and practice, they build confidence in themselves. Music also brings joy. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of pride and fulfillment when a new skill has been fine-tuned, and the result is beautiful music!

The longer a child continues with music lessons and the more skilled and confident they become on their instrument, the more likely they are to then use their musical gift in the church.

When they engage their gift in such a way, there are also many lasting, spiritual benefits:

  • Their relationship with God is deepened as they learn to worship and praise Him through music.
  • The joy, peace, and comfort they provide through their singing or playing is a blessing to the congregation.
  • They have increased opportunities to be strengthened through collaboration with other musicians in their congregation and in nearby congregations.
  • They have an outlet for praise, worship, and thanksgiving unto God, and help lead and inspire others to also praise, worship, and give thanks to God.
  • They help ensure that music remains an important part of worship in our church moving into the future.
  • They learn Biblical history in the hymns and expressions of faith and devotion that will remain with them their whole life.

Even if all of these wonderful benefits are shown to them, children and youth won’t always jump up and down pleading to take music lessons. Some may, of course, while others might look at music lessons and training in much the same way they do broccoli: “I know it’s good for me, but do I have to?” While young people should never be forced into lessons, and they may not be for everyone, encouragement (or even a gentle “nudge”) can often be very impactful. And this is where a child’s support system comes in—parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, and ministers. Each one is called to train up a child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Does a child have musical potential? If so, are we encouraging them to tap into it? How might we guide them to value glorifying God with their gifts?

We must not back away from bringing up.

Children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Let’s be good stewards of this heritage— these wonderful gifts of grace given to us from God. With His blessing, the investments we make in the children and youth today will have a positive and lasting impact not only on them, but also on the generations to come, and on the growth and health of our church into the future.

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