How Music Can Build a Child’s Self-Image

By Oksana Kolesnikova

Oksana with piano student Peyton Nicole Edmonds. PHOTO BY LAURA TAYLOR

Oksana with piano student Peyton Nicole Edmonds. PHOTO BY LAURA TAYLOR

We all know the power music has to move us physically. The right beat can make even the most solemn nod their head to the rhythm, and a sweet melody will cause even the most static to sway back and forth. However, music has an even more potent power – the power to move us emotionally.

Many children are acutely sensitive. A chaotic home life, being teased at school, and even the feeling of not measuring up to other children can have effects far into adulthood. Parents often wonder how to give their children the tools to deal with these issues without being overbearing and contributing to the problem. I suggest the empowering skill of music. Music education has the ability to improve a child’s self-esteem in a multitude of ways.

One way music can help children’s self-esteem is by showing them they have talent. With so much emphasis at schools being put on academics and athletics over the arts, it’s easy for a creative child to feel stifled and inadequate to her or his peers. Music lessons, however, give children an outlet for their auditory impulses.

Though initial practice is key, once they familiarize themselves with their instrument students begin to become expressive. Suddenly, they are able to translate their emotions into notes and chords. As they improve, their enjoyment grows, and pretty soon a simple skill becomes a full-blown talent. Musicality becomes something to be proud of. Children start to realize that if they can be good at music, there are probably many other things they’d be good at as well. They’ve taken the first step towards better self-esteem.

Music also contributes to a child’s self-esteem by attracting positive attention. Many children act out in order to receive attention from adults and their classmates. This behavior is often disruptive, and a bright child bored with his or her studies can quickly be branded a troublemaker.

Music puts this energy into focus. The music student’s hands are comfortably occupied on the keys of a piano instead of places that could get them into trouble. All eyes are on them at recitals and performances because of the music they are making, and not because they are calling out in class. As they grow and meet others with similar skills, opportunities to join bands and jam sessions pop up and they find themselves immersed in the positive and supportive social circle they had always been seeking.

In my 20-year career as a music instructor, I have seen this transformation happen time and again. It is one of the great joys of teaching to see shy, depressed, or rambunctious children blossom into well-rounded, free-thinking young adults. It is tempting for me to take credit for this change, but I know it is the power of music. Music has an incredible capacity to elevate self-esteem and to vastly improve life.

Oksana Kolesnikova is the founder of the Oksana School of Music in Beverly Hills and a successful artist and entrepreneur. Learn more at

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