Benefits of Music for Children: The Effect of Music on Child Development
The early years of childhood are essential for the future development of children. Bringing music into their lives can be a brilliant decision that will help them for the rest of their lives.
The benefits of music for children are well documented. Music and child brain development are closely linked, with language, concentration and learning all improved through singing. Learning these skills during the formative years has a positive impact.
It is never too early for parents to begin introducing kids to music. Here we’ll delve into the benefits of music for babies and toddlers, as well as for older children. Find out how you can vastly improve their development, and why paediatric science supports music education.
The benefits of learning music for child development
From an early age, and even in the womb, children are exposed to sounds. Whether they are sung to sleep by a parent or hear the tunes in their favourite TV show, the exposure is there.
There are many benefits of music for children’s development, so it’s good to get a child into singing and playing instruments from an early age! It’s never too late to start though. So if it’s not something you’d actively considered previously, now’s the time to investigate the ways in which you can involve your little (or big) ones.
How does singing and music support brain development?
As adults, we have long understood that when you sing it can release those feel-good endorphins. Performers often say that the biggest rush and high they get is from singing in front of a crowd. It’s all related to physiology and psychology, and singing has time and again been shown to lift people out of a bad mood.
Music and child brain development
When studying the benefits of music on child development, in particular, we find their brain activity to be especially interesting. We’ve all seen how happy kids are when they sing, just like grown-ups, but it’s not simply a momentary effect. There are some other very valuable aspects that come from it, including:
- Learning to sing as a child causes the brain to perform multiple tasks at once. This helps to develop the memory: from memorising lyrics to remembering a cue to start singing, the brain learns to be able to handle more tasks and is required to perform them simultaneously.
- Singing encourages deep breathing, getting more oxygen to the brain which helps with natural development, emotional wellbeing and concentration.
- Singing provides children with practical examples of concepts such as fast and slow to loud and quiet.
- Engaging with (singing and listening to) music can improve the mood of the child, thus supporting a healthy emotional state.
- Singing or playing instruments helps the child to learn on a deeper level, setting and achieving more complex goals.
- Music lessons for children will help to develop a child’s imagination and creativity. As well as the technical side of things, musical expression calls for artistry and storytelling. Kids naturally love to express themselves and this provides the perfect outlet.
- It’s not just the brain either. Singing and playing music are physical activities requiring the development of key muscles including the core. This makes children stronger and healthier, understanding how to properly use the diaphragm and lungs.
How does music help children’s early development?
In 2016, the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute completed research regarding music and child development. Their focus was primarily to find out how exposure to music could positively impact reading and language development.
The study (read it here) found that there were indeed benefits of music in child development, as their data showed that it could speed up brain development.
Assal Habibi, one of the senior research associates involved with the study said:
“The auditory system is stimulated by music. This system is also engaged in general sound processing that is fundamental to language development, reading skills and successful communication.”
How does music help a child’s language development?
There are many language development benefits for children who sing and listen to music. Below are just some of the benefits of music to children’s learning and development with regards to their language skills.
- Singing helps children to express themselves both verbally and emotionally.
- A child learns to better understand the differences found in vocal sounds and how to imitate them.
- Singing encourages self–confidence and helps aid children to communicate with others.
- Learning and listening to lyrics increases vocabulary on an ongoing basis.
- Singing practise for children helps to strengthen the lips and tongue through exercise, which is then stored through muscle memory.
- Improving diction helps a child speak more clearly and singing a variety of songs can help them with their enunciation.
- Singing lessons for children help them to learn to keep a rhythm and discover how to rhyme.
- In singing, children learn the importance of listening and self-discipline in order to learn their favourite songs.
- Similarly, children develop more patience as they devote time getting to grips with a tune and lyrics.
- The sense of achievement that comes from performing a song brings a sense of self-worth and satisfaction.
- Being part of a group or choir can provide children with a feeling of belonging and can help them make friends.
Singing supports learning and concentration
The alphabet is often taught with the ‘ABC’ song. This can be taken further: singing can be used to help children learn foreign languages, as it is proven that children remember phrases with greater accuracy when they sing. Studies have shown that bilingual children have advantages over those who are monolingual, scoring higher on cognitive performance tests.
This is because the more the brain is challenged with the likes of music, creative play and languages, the more effective it becomes. If a child then decides to take up opera into adulthood, the existing habit of singing with different accents and words is a major head start.
Through something as simple as taking a song a child already knows, such as ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and changing the words accordingly, you can aid learning in anything from science and history to the English language.
Singing makes everything more fun for children and lightens their mood (as well as yours). It creates a sense of togetherness. It can comfort a child when they feel sad and banishes boredom when they are agitated. One of the most notable benefits of music is that it causes the mind to focus and the body to relax.
In an increasingly stressed out society, providing a child with the ability and tools to self-soothe and relax. So it’s a fantastic gift not only from a performance perspective but as a general life tool.
Benefits of music for babies and toddlers
Starting early is essential to get the most benefit of music in children’s learning and development. It’s never too early to begin, with the pre-school years being an optimum opportunity.
At this age, their brains are growing at a rapid rate, soaking up information and experiences like a sponge.
Music and singing can help toddlers to develop their memory, social skills, speech, and listening and the following developmental aspects:
- Overall health
- Feeling good
- Body awareness and balance
- Language development
- Focused listening
Fun ways to introduce music and singing for child development
If you want to start yours off at an early stage so they don’t miss out on the benefits of music education, here is a selection of fun activities you can do. They are simple everyday tasks that you can very easily introduce into your toddler’s daily routine.
Not only will they begin introducing your child to the wonders of music, but they’ll also provide opportunities to spend quality time together – ideal for when you’re in need of some ideas for activities to keep a high energy toddler occupied. You never know, you may even discover a passion and talent for singing yourself.
#1 Buy a small karaoke machine to use at home and sing-along with them.
#2 Come up with a song to accompany routine tasks such as getting dressed in the morning. Change the lyrics to an existing simple tune (try The Wheels on the Bus), or get creative and compose your own.
#3 Alternate reading a bedtime story with singing a song to help them get off to sleep. If you’re not used to this, you might feel a bit self-conscious at first. But remember, you’re not trying to sound amazing. Rather it’s about modelling being uninhibited musically and making songs a part of everyday life.
#4 Listen to music in your car, possibly taking the karaoke songs you’ve all learned. This is an ideal way to combat boredom on longer trips, something that will stand you in good stead throughout the years – add in some tasty treats and kids will even look forward to a car trip.
#5 Take them to a child-friendly music concert. Look out for theatre companies who write for younger audiences too, these shows almost always incorporate songs into the narrative.
#6 Tech time is inevitable these days. But make it more educational by watching (age appropriate) musical content together.
The benefits of music education in school
As children grow older, music can develop their skills in even more ways. Unfortunately, not all schools run regular music lessons, so it’s important to try to expose your child to singing wherever you can. If you are able to exercise some choice over which schools your child attends, it’s worth looking at their facilities, extracurricular clubs and classes, in advance. Consider and compare them in terms of music and performance.
Benefits of learning a musical instrument as a child
In addition to singing, the benefits of learning a musical instrument as a child are enormous. If the school can provide tuition, has an orchestra, bands, practice rooms and passionate teachers, then your child will be exposed to far more opportunities.
They’ll also be learning in an environment where other children have musical skills too. Some healthy competition and friends with similar interest are key ingredients in keeping your child engaged with music.
Interests become increasingly important as kids grow into their teens. Making music, like sport, is often cited as a considerable factor in keeping teenagers out of trouble and on the right track.
Having a passion and something to work towards provides an incentive. While achieving in the arts gives a sense of satisfaction. Help your child get into music now and you’ll be helping them right through their formative years.
What are the benefits of learning music
As children grow older, music can develop them further in even more ways. Unfortunately, not all schools run regular music lessons, so it’s important to try to expose your child to singing wherever you can.
It’s widely recognised that music in scPosthool is vitally important.
Here are just a few benefits we believe it can bring to learning and development in a structured educational environment.
- Reasoning skills
- Better hand to eye co-ordination
- Emotional development
- Socialisation and teamwork
- Improves imagination
- Teaches discipline
- Helps children to relax
- Helps with creative thinking
- Sense of achievement
- Increases confidence
- Maths and pattern recognition skills
- Improves engagement with school and learning
What if my child’s school isn’t providing music education?
So, what if you’re sold on the idea of getting your child into music, but are finding the school isn’t providing many opportunities?
Don’t despair. You have many other routes through which you can get them involved in music. Here are the options you might want to consider:
If your child shows interest in a particular instrument, consider hiring a tutor for one on one coaching. The caveat to this is that often kids want to try a new hobby but quickly lose interest. So ask for a trial session or several trial sessions. Or seek out a tutor who has experience across a number of disciplines and can help to identify what instrument (including the voice) might be best suited.
If your child is taking up and instrument, be careful not to be swayed by your own wishes or a desire to impress friends and family. Many parents push their kids towards playing the violin for example. This is a far less useful skill than the ability to play say the piano or a guitar. It’s also much more expensive in terms of outlay, more difficult for your child to master and less pleasant on the ear when practising. That’s not to say that kids shouldn’t learn the violin of course. But the intention behind it should be examined first.
Availability will also be a determining factor: if you live in an outlying area, you may not have a huge pool of tutors to pick from, unless you’re happy to have sessions over Skype. Cost is also a consideration. So if you’re on a tight budget, you might be better off considering one of the other options.
Music and stage schools operate across the country at weekends. These provide group tuition for primary and high school ages and promote socialising and fun, as well as learning. Some focus more on creativity and expression, while others have more of an emphasis on technique and discipline. Almost all will provide opportunities to perform in public, at showcases, recitals and even full-scale West End style productions. Each school’s principal will be able to talk you through their ethos and approach.
Perhaps your child shows no interest in singing or playing. Have you considered dance lessons? These carry many of the same benefits, teaching and developing rhythm, expression, memory and muscle memory. Not all the music will have lyrics though, so they may not enhance language or speech skills. Dance lessons also a fantastic compliment to singing lessons, as most artists need to hone both these skills.
There are also lots of enterprises running interactive music and movement sessions for babies, toddlers and their parents/carers – a wonderful way to meet up with other tots, adults and promote increased early brain development.
If your child doesn’t want – or isn’t able – to attend group sessions or tutoring, self-guided learning may be an option. This is unlikely to work unless the child is mature and committed enough. But many do thrive as self-taught musicians, incorporating some extra one to one lessons later in life. YouTube is packed with great resources for this.
Is your child showing talent, but the school isn’t providing any kind of platform to progress or receive exposure? If so, why not consider entering a competition where they’ll be seen by music industry professionals? Children can enter Open Mic UK from age 10. Not only does it provide access to amazing performing opportunities, but auditioning and singing in front of an audience also helps build confidence and resilience from a young age.
The benefits of music in early childhood education
The benefits of music in early childhood education are much more extensive than you may realise. Far from being limited to childhood and adolescence, your child will reap the benefits throughout their life, giving them an advantage.
Sadly, a career in a creative industry is still often seen as unattainable or risky. The reality is that this sector is growing at a pace and accounts for more than £100 billion of the income generated to the UK economy.
While not everyone can be a megastar, every musical legend started somewhere. Elton John received a piano at age 3 and was subsequently sent for lessons. Had his mother not had this foresight, it’s unlikely he’d be where he is today.
Maybe your child has the potential for national or worldwide success, like Elton? If they’re not provided with the tools to find out, you may never know. Every established artist started somewhere, sometime.
But what of those who aren’t destined for the dizzy heights of stardom?
Well, there’s plenty of other work to be found for musicians at all levels. It could be working as a session singer, performing in a touring musical, teaching in schools, tutoring, providing music therapy services, composing, as an accompanist – the list goes on. Music is not just for the hobbyist. When children are involved from a young age, more career paths open up, giving them freedom and choice to explore as they enter adulthood.
There’s a musical activity to suit every child. And there’s no doubt about it, the effects of music on child development are significant. So now you’re aware of the array of skills they’ll develop from making it part of their regular routine, consider how you can introduce more music into your child’s life.
Then watch them soar like rockets! The sky’s the limit.
What are the benefits of learning to read music?
Learning to read music is a skill linked to maths – making the learner simultaneously better at both. While some artists can get by without it, those who can have the advantage. Some auditions involve musical sightreading (the ability to read and perform the printed notes at first glance).
What if my child doesn’t show a talent for music?
When it comes to benefits of music for children, it’s not about aptitude. It’s about the effects of music on childhood development – which isn’t related to talent at all. That said, just because your child doesn’t show talent at this stage, doesn’t mean they won’t in future.
How do you think singing and music has helped your child’s development and learning? Can you tell us about any other benefits you’ve noticed as your child has grown older?