How Does Music Build Confidence?

Everyone recognizes the importance of developing confidence and self-esteem, but actually knowing how to cultivate these qualities is much more challenging.

  • What makes some people more confident than others?
  • Is there anything you can do to help your kids improve their self-esteem?
  • What can you do to develop confidence in your talents and abilities as an adult?

Confidence may seem like an innate quality, but the good thing is, your actions can actually make a big difference. Plus, it’s never too late to start!

Current research has shown that there are a number of things you can do to help build self-confidence, including learning a musical instrument. The arts, and music specifically, are unique in their ability to help improve confidence in people of all ages. Want to learn how? Keep reading to learn more about how music can help build self-esteem and confidence in adults, teens, and kids.

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What are the Benefits?

Are you considering using music lessons as a way to improve your own self-esteem, cultivate your talents, or help your kids do the same? Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect to see:

Improved Social Skills

Music is a naturally collaborative activity. Working with a teacher, being part of a small ensemble, orchestra, or rock band can help a child develop their social skills – a key part of becoming a confident and self-assured adult.

Performing in front of peers provides a great opportunity to practice public speaking, presentation, and communication skills. Many schools offer performance opportunities in both small and larger group settings, allowing students to build up to performing on a stage, or in front of a larger crowd. Check out our list to learn more about performance opportunities at music schools near you.

Even for adults, sharing your music in a relaxed setting such as an open mic can be a great way to meet and interact with many different types of people.

Language Development

Learning a song, or even singing along to the radio can help kids who struggle with speech or language development. Since many children who experience challenges with language learning may also face bullying from peers, music lessons are a great way to work on self confidence and language development simultaneously. Are you learning a new language as an adult, or have a second language learner in your household?

Music lessons are also a great way to build competency in a new language by expanding your vocabulary, becoming more comfortable with pronunciation, idioms, and accents. Plus, it’s way more fun than flashcards!

Better Discipline

Learning to play an instrument requires perseverance and discipline. This is great practice for the challenges your kids will encounter later in life, and can help prepare them for the “real world.” When your child is excited about learning a new skill or song, they are more likely to pursue it on their own.

While many children may still need help and encouragement setting goals and learning to follow through with them, participating in an activity they love is a great way to help them develop intrinsic motivation and discipline over time.

Even for adults, learning an instrument is a great way to practice discipline. Learning a new skill as an adult is hard, and you’ll need both motivation and discipline to succeed. Fortunately, a great teacher will help you set appropriate goals and maintain your momentum.

No matter your age, having a guide on your journey can make a huge difference.  

Creativity

Learning to play an instrument is a great way to foster creativity in people of all ages, but especially in kids. When you or your child are encouraged to explore different instruments and musical styles, you can let your creativity run wild!

Not sure which instrument is right for you? Check out our guide on picking the right instrument for your child. A great teacher will also help get your creative juices flowing, and assist you in charting your own musical journey.

Music & Growth Mindset:

Another reason music study is great for improving self-esteem is that it can help cultivate a growth mindset.

According to Carol Dweck in an article published in the Harvard Business Review, “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than…those who believe their talents are innate gifts. This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.”

While ideas about innate talent are certainly part of the world of music-making, learning music in the context of a lesson really has much more to do with hard work, personal development, and learning from mistakes.

The ability to learn from challenges or mistakes is one of the key skills developed in music lessons.

To learn to play a piece of music, you need to practice specific sections repeatedly and in different ways to make sure you have all the elements down before moving forward. Practicing these skills in the context of music lessons can help you learn to apply a growth mindset to other areas of your life as well.

Getting Started – Harnessing Music to Improve Confidence

Music improves mood, promotes social engagement, and helps build self-esteem. The best part? You don’t even have to be “good” at it to reap the benefits!

According to Tom Jacobs of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley, encouraging kids to participate in the arts is one of the best ways to combat social comparison and feelings of unworthiness experienced by many kids and teens. Even more exciting, “they found that kids didn’t have to be good at their chosen creative activity for these positive effects to blossom” (Jacobs, 2019).

This is great news for people of all ages, because it means the benefits of playing music are not limited only to people achieving at certain levels, or to those who pursue music professionally. People who learn an instrument at any age can take advantage of improvements in mood, self confidence, critical thinking, and more. Here’s how to get started.

Chose something you are passionate about:

Do you love Italian arias? Do metal guitar solos or Maple Leaf Rag inspire you to new heights?

You will be more motivated to keep going if you pick something you love. Imagine the sense of satisfaction you’ll feel once you achieve your goal of learning to play songs by your favorite artists! In my personal experience, the feeling of being able to share music you love with other people is one of the greatest in the world.

Take small steps:

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “practice makes perfect!” But with music, it’s actually not perfection we’re looking for, but improvement. Learning an instrument is like building a house. Your project won’t be a success if you try to do everything all at once. Rather, it requires patience, planning, and many small tasks that build upon one another.

With the guidance of an experienced teacher, you can learn to set achievable goals that can serve as stepping stones on your journey to fulfilling your musical dreams.

What is Self Confidence and How Can We Work on it? 

This all sounds great! But how does it work? And why is music specifically a good fit for working on self confidence? If you find yourself asking these questions, this section is for you:

According to life coach Kara Loewentheil, cultivating self confidence requires challenging yourself, committing to your goal, and following through. By overcoming even small challenges and reflecting on your successes, you can improve your self image over time and build confidence in your abilities.

To cultivate these qualities, practice challenging yourself, follow through on your goals, and over time you can reframe the way you think about yourself and your accomplishments.

Music lessons provide a perfect laboratory to practice each of these steps!

Challenge Yourself:

When we challenge ourselves and succeed at something, this gives us confidence that we can do hard things!

Taking a risk to try something new or unfamiliar, and committing the time and energy it takes to succeed at that new activity is a great way to improve your confidence.

Learning a new instrument is HARD. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. The sense of accomplishment you feel when you make progress towards your musical goals is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world! If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out our article by an adult piano student about her experiences.

Follow-Through & Perseverance:

Achieving any major goal takes patience, perseverance, and discipline.

Music lessons are a great way to practice these skills in a controlled setting with the guidance of an experienced teacher who can help you develop the qualities you need to succeed. Want to learn more about how to find a teacher who’s right for you? Learn more here.

Change the way you think:

Think about times in your life when you’ve done something that was hard for you, that you had to work at, but ultimately turned out to be a success. 

Recalling times when you’ve faced challenges and overcome them can help give you the confidence to know you can do it again.

Over time, this can help you adjust your mindset towards difficult situations and boost self-esteem.

Learning an instrument is a long-term project. Throughout your musical journey you will have many opportunities to look back on how far you’ve come and the challenges you have faced and overcome. By pursuing something you love in a supportive environment, you set yourself up for success!

Is There an Age Limit?

No way! One of the great things about music and music lessons is that they are accessible and beneficial to people of all ages.

While it’s well known that music helps kids build self-confidence from an early age, the same factors we have outlined above are just as applicable to adult music students.

It can be hard to learn something totally new as an adult, but the sense of accomplishment music provides is totally worth it! Having a hobby or special interest that is truly yours is empowering, and music is even more fun because you can share your creative talents with friends, family, and your greater community.

Conclusion 

If you want to improve your self confidence, learn a new skill, and have lots of fun along the way, music lessons are a great way to get started.

If you have kids in your life who struggle with self-esteem or still need to find their social niche, music programs present many opportunities to explore a new interest while learning important life skills.

No matter your age or experience level, learning a musical instrument can help build critical competencies that will help you in all areas of life, including in terms of improved confidence and self-esteem.

If you are interested in learning more about some of the other benefits associated with music education, check out our article on the Benefits of Music Education for Children

Author: Ellen Rice

Ellen has been working with Ensemble Schools since November 2019 and serves as Program Director for At Your Door Music (Western Boston suburbs) & Kidz Create Music (Los Angeles, CA), two music schools offering in-home lessons. Ellen earned their M.M. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (2019), and BA in Music from American University (2013).

Ellen is also active as a performer and singer-songwriter, contributing vocals, cello, guitar, and original songs as ⅓ of the band Crow Song Trio.

Ellen Rice Musician

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