› The Role of Music in Your Child’s Development
The Role of Music in Your Child’s Development
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - May 20th, 2016
If your child loves music, I’ve got some great news: Basic Music Competency (BMC) is the ability to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm. Unfortunately, no one can learn to play an instrument without it, and a BMC-lacking person won’t be able to recognize if the melody is right or notice an unsteady tempo.
However, BMC is a skill that children can pick up as early as age three if their parents give them experiences with learning to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm. And if you haven’t already incorporated these things into your child’s life, it’s not too late to start.
Try This at Home for Fun!
Here are a few things you can try:
- Play all sorts of music at home and on the go, from Beethoven to the Beatles.
- Sing songs together and clap along with the rhythm.
- Sing songs with hand movements like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “The Wheels on the Bus.”
- Listen to songs while you’re marching, dancing, rocking, or tapping to the beat.
- When your child can speak, sing your conversations instead of talking (kind of like an opera).
What About Playing an Instrument?
So, if your child exhibits BMC and shows an affinity for music, the next question is, “Should my child learn to play an instrument?” There’s an enormous amount of research that says learning to play an instrument will strengthen your child’s intellectual skills in everything from math to spatial to language abilities. Here are some statistics:
- Students who play instruments scored 53 points higher in verbal and 61 points higher in math on the SAT.
- Students who learn music consistently outperform students who do not on math and reading achievement tests. Skills such as reading, memory, listening, predicting, concentration, eye-hand coordination, and fine-motor abilities are developed through playing music.
- A Wisconsin school district now requires music lessons for K-5th grade students after kindergarteners who took piano lessons scored 43% higher on solving puzzles and 53% higher on block patterns than those who did not have lessons.
The Impact of Music on Your Child’s Future
Moreover, musicians are particularly successful in fields besides music. For instance, physician and biologist Lewis Thomas reported that music majors are accepted to medical school more often than any other field of study, with two-thirds of music majors who apply to medical school being accepted. Surprisingly, the next-largest group is biochemistry majors, with only 44% of those applicants admitted.
More Than Just an Intellectual Boost!
So, how else can music impact our children’s intellectual development? Self-expression is huge in music, and this does wonders for a child’s confidence. Kids who play in bands or orchestras learn teamwork, develop excellent work habits and are stretched beyond their current abilities, all while learning that persistence and practice pays off.
Music training teaches students to:
- Focus their attention for long periods of time;
- Decode a complex symbolic system (musical notation);
- Translate the code into precise motor patterns;
- Recognize said patterns;
- Learn rules of pattern formation;
- Discriminate differences in pitch;
- Track and reproduce rhythms;
- Understand ratios and fractions (e.g., a quarter-note is half as long as a half-note);
- Memorize long passages of music; and
- Improvise within a set of musical rules.
As a result, if children improve these skills, they could find that their improvements transfer to other domains, like language and mathematics (Schellenberg 2005; Shlaug et al 2005).
Furthermore, exposure to music offers many benefits to a child’s brain, including promoting language acquisition, listening skills, memory, and motor skills, which aids in developing multiple brain neural connections. Also, exposure to music improves spatial-temporal reasoning (e.g., the ability to see disassembled parts and mentally put them back together again). Math skills also depend on this kind of reasoning.
Now, ask yourself: Are you allowing your child’s imagination to soar? Are you doing everything in your power to inspire your child’s curiosity to learn and grow? Try expanding your child’s mind with music!
Tell us about your experiences