Music is incredible for anyone to experience, but there are many outstanding ways music benefits children in the early years of development. I've been taking my son to a class called Music Together since he was 8 months old (he's now 2). It's a parent-participated music and rhythm class for ages 0-4 and 5-7. It's fantastic and I can see how music has shaped my son in how his body reacts to rhythm, how he recognizes songs, and can sing in tune. If you're interested in the many ways music benefits children, keep reading! Here are 7 research-based facts related to early music exposure!
1. Enhances Language Development
One of the most early signs of development in children is their ability to communicate with language. A PBS article, written by Laura Lewis Brown, states that, "recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds." What a cool phenomenon, that music actually helps the brain develop and process language! Because infants and toddlers are so fascinated with the world around them, language development is one of the remarkable ways music benefits children.
2. Stimulates Different Motor Skills at the Same Time
When children are exposed to music and rhythm, they tap into multiple functions of the brain- sight, sound, touch, voice mimicking, and movement. A rich musical environment is not only very stimulating for a child, but also progresses their cognitive abilities. This is also the prime time to develop children's aptitude for music later in life. An important component of music fluency is a certain wiring of the brain called audiation. This happens in the early years of development! That's why it's much harder for an adult to learn how to play an instrument if they haven't been exposed to music previously.
3. More Brain Power is Being Used
Music therapy is actually used in a variety of ways to help people relearn skills or develop ones that need developing. It's also used for emotional purposes. In the same way, when children are exposed to music and making music, their brains actually work harder, and so fine motor skills are richly developed. It's so amazing to think just how beneficial music is in the developmental process!
4. Better Performance in School
One study shows the significance of a strong music and arts program within elementary schools. Students who had been regularly exposed to music actually did significantly better in English and in Math! Music training can also help with verbal memory recall.
5. Natural Ability to Sing in Tune Will Be Carried with Them as They Grow
The Music Together philosophy is that every child has the ability to sing in tune and move to a beat. It's ingrained in all of us when we are born to understand and respond to music. Unfortunately most of us don't get the proper exposure we need as children to carry on proficiency in music as adults. So when children are exposed all the time to music, sound, rhythm and dancing, their abilities only increase as they get older!
6. Rhythm through Movement
At such a young age, it's fascinating to see how adept some children are to keeping a rhythm with their bodies! My sweet boy moves both of his arms and his head to the beat of his favorite songs. He sings and knows all the words to his favorite children's songs and we sing them together. I know he wouldn't be as proficient being only 2 years, if he hadn't been exposed to music training in a more formal way!
7. Singing and Playing an Instrument Are Intimately Connected
If a child's singing voice isn't properly developed in their early years, then their ability to think tonally and develop that important factor of "audiation" will not be there. This means they will not be able to comprehend how to play an instrument. I can't think of a single musician that I know who isn't able to carry a tune with a decent singing voice. The two are very much related!
I don't think I've ever met a person who didn't love music and have a connection with it on some level. We are all musical beings! For those of you with kids, how has music influenced his/her life? How has music impacted you personally?