Growing up I was a very good artist. Drawing was probably my most favorite thing to do as a child. Give me a box of pastels, crayons or pencils and a ream of paper and you wouldn’t see me for the rest of the evening. I was even voted “most artistic” in high school. There was a line around my desk of students who needed help with book report covers and projects. I wanted to study the arts, become a Disney animator, but I was afraid it wouldn’t be very lucrative. That I’d be a starving artist, that it wouldn’t prepare me for life or be a useful skill in the real world… so instead, I went to college to study veterinarian medicine. Many people get discouraged by themselves and from others for studying their dream of the arts, may it be music, dance, painting, sculpting or even singing… due to it’s low success rate.
Looking back, I was wrong. Studying the arts, and tapping into the creative side of the brain couldn’t have prepared me better- and here’s why:
1. The arts (music, classical or fine arts) require dedication, discipline and practice. Whether you are playing an instrument, strengthening your voice or learning a new water color technique, you cannot become good without hours and hours of practice and dedication to your craft. By practicing the arts children learn what it takes in life to succeed. The hard work you put into it yielding amazing rewards teaches children to work hard to improve their skills. It teaches them not to give up and not to be afraid of putting in time and effort toward a goal.
2. Studying the arts improves self confidence. They give children a talent and a way to show off their skills to their friends and family. It gives them something to feel accomplished about and builds up self esteem.
3. The arts can enhance communication and individuality. They give children another way, besides just using their words, to express themselves, embrace their differences, be heard, and show who they are and how they are feeling.
4. The arts boost creativity. It allows them to think outside the box, tackle challenges, find different ways to accomplish something, try different things, and make connections to things they may never have before. Skills that any company would love to employ.
5. The arts provide an outlet for stress relief. Concentrating on improving, performing, or creating gives children a way to escape from their troubles and put their energy toward something good and productive, like writing a new song, painting a new masterpiece, or choreographing a new dance routine.
6. The arts provide exercise for the brain and body. Studying dance is a great way to stay in shape. Learning how to paint or play an instrument enhances the mind and keeps it working, and productive. Best of all, it keeps them away from computers, cellphones, TVs, video games and other brain and soul sucking electronics that dull the mind and the senses.
7. Studying the arts helps them to take criticism. Most artists are their own worst critics, but taking criticism from a teacher or instructor will help build character, help them realize there is room for improvement, and keep them humble. It will help them learn how to improve flaws or weaknesses, not take things personally, and grow as an individual.
8. Studying the arts teaches healthy competition. It allows children to see artists, musicians, performers better than themselves and strive to improve. It gives children a goal to work towards and sets them on path of greatness.
9. Studying the arts teaches children about diversity. Children learn that the world is not just black and white. By studying the arts, they learn its purple, grey, big, small, energetic, lively, passionate, romantic, and unique. They get the opportunity to see the expressions of others, to learn more about themselves, who they are and what they like, and to learn more about the world.
10. The arts spread joy to others. Whether it’s a broadway play, or a backyard production, the Mona Lisa, or your child’s first self portrait, Carnegie Hall, or your child’s first performance in front of family and friends, performing, displaying and producing art in any form, brings joy to everyone who comes in contact with it. Not only for the artist, singer, dancer, or musician, but for their friends, family, and even those who are fortunate enough to experience it. Its a skill that you can take with you anywhere, a skill you can share to both entertain and teach others and it is a skill that will continue to bring a smile to faces throughout their entire life.
So next time your child shows an interest in singing, dancing, painting, drawing, acting, or playing an instrument… nurture it! You are providing a gift of happiness, discipline, creativity, and confidence to your child that they can take with them and build on, and share their entire life.