Importance of Music in Early Education or 7 ways music can help to enhance your child’s potential!

We all want the best for our children. And we, as parents, enjoy seeing them succeed, — whether it is their first step, first word, first independently red book or excitement of passing that difficult math test, — it makes us happy to know that they are doing great, making progress and enjoying it in a process.

After literally years of research and reading, I think I found the secret, that I want to shout from the rooftops now — giving children early learning opportunities and creating stimulating environment for them as they develop and grow, would ensure that they will reach their full potential later on in life

It is during those first 5 years of life, child’s brain literally wired for learning. Learning is not a chore, it is fun and game. It is during these years we can give our children the foundation, on which they would build later. Seeing he results of early learning in my own life, in life of my father, husband and now my children, I can say — I am a believer now!

But today I want to talk about one aspect of it — music.

There are those who would argue that even before a child is born they are being introduced to a form of music, in the rhythms that they hear from inside their mother’s womb.  The repeated beating of a mother’s heart is usually the first sound that a baby hears.

Researchers also believe that early musical experiences stimulate the development of neuronal synapses. By increasing the number of interconnections between brain cells, music essentially enhances a child’s ability to think, learn, reason and create.

And as poetry enhances child’s comprehension of language and phonemic awareness. Music stimulates child’s brain, helps it to organize itself and an instrumental in forming additional neural connections which enhance overall intellectual performance of a child.

Here are some interesting bits of information I came across lately on importance of early music education:

1. Rhythm seen as key to music’s role in intellectual development. Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills (Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills, 200)

2. Better academic performance. A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background. (Dr. James Catterall, UCLA)

3. Higher social skills. In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.(The Arts Education Partnership, 1999)

4. Improved every day performance. Students who are rhythmically skilled demonstrated better ability to plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives according to TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000

5. Increased self-esteem in regards to academic achievement. According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculums reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group.
(Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.)

6. Increased math abilities. A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased. (“Arts Exposure and Class Performance,” Phi Delta Kappan, October, 1998)

7. Music enhances reading and comprehension skills. In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change. (Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 199)

However, in order for music to have a notable effect on brain development, a child must physically engage in musical activities. These activities must provide a comprehensive sensory experience as well.

That would mean singing, clapping, dancing to music, playing an instrument, marching and acting to music, playing music games, experiencing music.

Here are some of the musical activities we do with our children — now 2 month old, 2 years old and 3 years old:

Watching classical ballet. We had an opportunity to take both our toddlers to a few live ballet performances in the national opera theater. They also watch recordings of some of the most outstanding ballet productions of Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Raimonda. Classical music performed by orchestra, fascinating dances and story line — perfect combination for sensory music experience. We also encourage them to participate in performance and dance along as they watch.

Little Musician Lessons. If you have not heard about this program allowing parents of young children teach them foundations of music theory, develop their perfect pitch and rhythm, introduce them to most notable musical masterpieces of all time, as well as composers, instruments and much more, you have to check it out! Little Musician is the most amazing music program for your children, babies and toddlers. We do a lot of hands on activities with it, and possibilities are literally limitless.

Dancing. We dance together to variety of musical styles. It is great exercise, helps children express themselves and helps them to learn rhythm, character and mode. Children of all ages can do that — I dance holding my 2 month old, my 2 year old jumping to music tempo and my 3 year old does complex dance moves pretending to be a dancer on a stage!

Playing as a band. Over the years we have collected all kind of musical instruments, some are toys and others are simple percussion  instruments that our children can use when we play music together

Themes to Remember. Singing words to classical tunes helps children to memorize them in a fun way. We made so many fun and silly songs to classical pieces, and it is highly effective. If you do not feel overly creative, — there are ready made programs that can be used, Themes to Remember and Bethhoven’s Wig are just some of them, that we used ourselves and are happy to recommend.