Music in Early Education
Music is a universal language and a form of expression. It plays a very important role in our lives and is part of our culture, whether socially or through educational purposes. According to research, music provides a great support to children’s early development as it has proven cognitive benefits.
What are the main reasons for these cognitive benefits?
Music increases toddler’s auditory sensory development - exposure to different genres of music can stimulate the brain cells and listening awareness.
Music is a positive therapy - children cope or learn about social skills, and communicating skills through music. They become confident learners and performers when guided properly. Studies also show that children with special needs can seek professional advice with a certified Music Therapist. With the aid of a Music Therapist, the child can learn to express themselves without words. It is directed in a relaxed environment where children play instruments, sings, listens to music and write songs. Music therapy does not include drilling instrumental or vocal lessons to improve performance skills. It targets ways for children to cope through music.
Music can improve literacy and numeracy - children learn to identify sound patterns such as phonics, syllables, tones, and begin to recognise words when they listen to nursery rhymes. This leads to numeracy improvement where children are exposed to numbers as they learn to count the syllables used, count with the music, and learn about rhythm in general. These skills are then mastered through repetition, listening to songs, and playing of instruments. Children also learn to focus better overtime.
Music helps toddlers build coordination - children react to music naturally and move to the rhythm of music almost instantly. They dance, sway, jump, clap, mimic, and do other actions to the sound of music. The music encourages them to develop their gross motor in this aspect as it helps with their muscle development, strength and balancing skills. The playing of instruments also aid with fine motor skills as children use different parts of their body to play the instruments. For example, playing the piano requires mastering hand-eye coordination and requires the feet at a later stage to play the pedals.
Music is also a mood lifter - timbre is an important musical element as we connect our emotions with the music we hear. Music can be used to soothe and calm a child with slow music such as a lullaby, but it can also be used to lift their spirit with fast and upbeat music.
So how can parents play an important role in Music Education?
Bonding - music can be used as a tool for parents to bond with their child/children. Activities like that dancing, singing or moving along with their child when playing music ultimately leads to better bonding children. It is an entertaining process for parents and the children. They love to see their parents join in the fun! If you encourage your child to play, sing or dance with you, he or she will be encouraged to do so.
Try playing the following activity with your child.
Activity - Freeze game
Objectives - This game increases aerobic fitness and develops listening skills.
What you will need - Percussion instruments (if you do not have instruments, you can simple use your body) and any upbeat music.
Procedure - Shake the percussion instrument, dance, do different actions as the music plays. When the music stops, everyone must freeze.
As a Music teacher, I play the Freeze game with all the children every lesson. It reinforces the cognitive benefits mentioned above and is a lot of fun. Children love coming into the Music room every week. They become inquirers, they explore, they discover, and they learn the fundamentals of music while having a fantastic time. With guidance, children become little musicians when they enter the Music room.