Why Music Matters

Do you remember songs from your childhood? Does hearing a particular song evoke memories of people, events or places in your past? Dick Clark said music is the soundtrack of our lives, and just as music can have a powerful effect on us as adults, it can have an equally strong impact on the developing brains of young children.

Professionals in early childhood development, neuroscience and psychology agree that children who are regularly exposed to age-appropriate music benefit on many levels, including enhanced social-emotional development and gains in language, literacy and pre-math skills.

A number of studies point to the positive effects of music on young children, but how exactly does music facilitate this development? Simply put, it helps children’s brain cells build the neural connections necessary for healthy development and growth. The earliest years are a time of tremendous brain growth and are a finite window of opportunity when the foundation of the brain’s neural architecture is built.

According to one music program for young children, here are just a few of the gains seen in toddlers and preschoolers who are consistently engaged by music in an age-appropriate, socially accepting environment:

  • Reading – enhanced phonological processing, spoken language and comprehension skills. In one assessment, toddlers who participated in a music class showed 32% gains in literacy over children who didn’t participate.
  • Quantitative – builds the spatial-temporal and reasoning skills required for math and science, as found in a study at the University of Wisconsin.
  • Social – children develop social and emotional skills essential for school readiness, like the ability to control their responses and relate to others appropriately.
  • Physical – by moving and dancing to music and playing simple instruments, children improve gross and fine motor skills.
  • Creative – activities that encourage freedom within a fun and friendly structure spark their creativity.

In one of our previous posts about the importance of play, we mentioned that, “Parents who take time to play and interact with their children lay the foundation for healthy emotional and social development.” Play during the early years also helps children learn about their environments and experiences. In a General Music Today article, Dr. Lili M. Levinowitz says that early childhood is a time when children learn about their world primarily through the magical process of play, and play that includes music is important to brain development.

Music is universal, reaching across cultural lines and socio-economical hurdles. By involving your child in music, whether it’s singing songs and nursery rhymes together or a curriculum with a music component, you’ll strengthen his or her ability to grow in literacy, social and emotional relationships, gross and fine motor skills and creativity.

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