|NEW ZEALAND'S EDUCATION
Why Music for Young Children?
By Janet Channon, Kids Music Company
The benefits of involving children in musical activities are immense, from developing a love of music to promoting brain growth.
Most importantly, music is fun. If a child is having fun their brain is open to learning. If a child is stressed, worried or unhappy, the brain closes down to learning and new stimulation. Activities that are fun open up the brain to learning.
A child's brain grows to 90% of its adult size in the first three years of life. It is hungry for stimulation and can develop pathways across the hemispheres at a phenomenal rate, depending on the stimulation given. Coupled with the fact that children's hearing develops at its most rapid rate between 4 and 6 years of age, it makes sense that early childhood is the most precious time for establishing foundations of music, such as singing in tune and moving in time.
As well as developing musical abilities, a child's involvement in musical activities opens doors of other learning. Music can help children develop:
listening and concentration,
control and coordination of large and small muscles,
seriation and memory skills,
an understanding of 3-dimensional space,
an awareness and ability to control the movement of their body in that space
group social skills of appreciating the ideas of others,
working in a circle with the subsequent self confidence that comes with this involvement,
oral language ,
understanding spoken words or instructions and language concepts such as directionality,
a knowledge of other cultures and times, through their music.
Music is multi-sensory. By inputting information into the brain through multiple senses simultaneously the learning is reinforced and multiplied. If we hear some words, sing them, then play the rhythms on our bodies, stamping the beat throughout, the learning involves the whole body, with many senses interacting along the way. The learning is therefore immensely stronger than if only one sense is involved.
The power of music as a learning tool is well understood by the advertising industry. If an idea has a song or rhythm attached, children (and adults) find that information easier to remember. How do we first learn the alphabet? What is the phone number for Pizza Hut?
Music is also one of the few activities that uses both sides of the brain, both the logical and creative, at the same time. By utilising both sides simultaneously the brain establishes connections across the hemispheres. The more connections we have, the faster we are able to think.
You don't even have to be particularly musical yourself. Some people say they can't sing. That doesn't really matter. Just as you don't need to be a mathematician to teach your kids to count, you don't need to be a musical maestro to enjoy music with your kids. Children take much more notice of your enthusiasm and the smile on your face than your level of musicality.
An involvement in musical activities from a young age is active entertainment, compared with a lot of entertainment these days which involves passive entertainment, just sitting on the couch.
Musical activities involve the whole body, often igniting a lifetime love of music. All children deserve the enrichment musical experiences provide. So open up your lungs, fire up your feet and have fun with your children.
For more information about preschool and school age music check out Kids Music Company.