I want to share with you two of the parent responses I received to my question about the non-musical benefits of taking music lessons. Thanks for your replies!

Stephanie said:

“I think the non-musical benefits include learning to concentrate, gaining confidence, appreciating incremental success, developing respect for others and their talent.

I also think there are many benefits to parents besides listening to great music.  Along the way, I have gained some really valuable parenting perspective.  The band teacher at the middle school is particularly magical and he stressed how much kids need praise for what they get right.  He has some sort of formula for a praise to criticism ratio that has been good for me to remember along the way.  He is good to remind parents about just how hard it is to learn to play an instrument, not that it’s not worth the effort, but that it is effort.  Music has helped me push my kids in ways that I thought were good, like “just learn the first line today,” rather than letting them abandon a piece.  I often remind them at the end that what once seemed impossible is now totally playable.”

Libby said:

“I think there’s a huge benefit in having to practice something over and over as a means to perfection (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers). I also think that the repetition required to get a piece performance-ready is a built-in failure/reward system. One of the things that is less and less available to children is the opportunity to fail at something over and over and the intertwined ability to learn from the failure. Playing a piece beautifully requires a lot of playing it less than beautifully and persisting until it gets better. Extrapolate that out to, say, medical research, and someone who learned persistence in the face of failure or only partial success is going to be better prepared to fine-tune a pump for implantation, or more likely to conduct more rigorous studies of a new medication.

We talk a lot about wanting our children to succeed. I’d rather have mine fail, hard as it is for all of us when that happens. If they learn that failure isn’t final, that picking up and starting over is always an option, that they will most likely fail repeatedly at any skill before getting it right, they’re going to be more resilient and resourceful adults, people who have the confidence that they can do hard things.”

Things to add to our list would be:

Gaining confidence
Appreciating incremental success
Developing respect for others and their talent
Repetitive practice
Failure/reward system
learn how to succeed in spite of failure
how to try