Music or sport? (children’s extra-curricular choices)

Music or sport? (children’s extra-curricular choices)

Sport has always felt ‘tribal’ to me. As a child I played basketball, soccer, baseball & football and let me be clear, I enjoyed the experiences immensely. There are, however, some dynamics associated with being part of a sports team that may be less useful to a child’s development than we sometimes realise.  

Mon, 21st May 2018

When you join a sports team you are becoming part of that team, and as such, part of a group or ‘tribe’ that has team colours (or uniforms), insignia (or logo), team members and more often than not traditional rivals. Certainly when my family told me which AFL team I followed, that too came complete with a rival team that was to be hated as much as our team was loved.

Around the same age, I was introduced to music lessons and although there were similarities to team sports such as working in groups with others and having specific tasks within that group, it seemed far more collaborative than combative. As an individual or in a band or orchestra, as a musician you have no rivals. Certainly from time to time you may be in competition with other musicians but far less emphasis is placed on the ‘us verses them’ mentality that exists in sport. Even the language alone shows significant differences, for example you will never hear a music teacher using expressions like “winners train, losers complain” or giving directions like “destroy them..” or “beat them…” as I heard from my sport coaches. Music does however retain some of the less aggressive but very useful language and sayings like, “practice makes perfect” and “correct instead of critique”.

Sport certainly has value from fun to problem solving, physical fitness and more but given studies showing positives effects on similar functions (especially academic & mental) from music, it’s certainly worth considering alongside the more traditional extra-curricular activities we offer young children.

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