Music And Your Child
Why use music?
Any child can appreciate and benefit from music, regardless of their abilities or developmental level. Music helps children learn and remember new concepts through repetition and predictable patterns. Imagine trying to remember the order of the alphabet without the Alphabet Song! Pairing music with actions can help children learn the meaning of new words (“Wheels On The Bus,” etc.). Music also provides an opportunity for social interaction, as children sing along and imitate movements with the group. Research shows that participation in a music program contributes to early social-emotional development in young children, and for older children, learning to play an instrument has a positive impact on cognitive skills and academic achievement.
When should we use music?
Music can be used any time throughout the day! Some children enjoy music playing in the background, which may help them stay calm, energized or focused. Playing or singing music during everyday routines (e.g., diapering, washing hands, taking a bath, brushing teeth) can make the experience more fun or help them remember the steps to complete the routine. Music can also help pass the time when children need to wait for a turn or to begin an activity. Lastly, music can help children complete transitions between physical locations (e.g., outside to inside), physical states (e.g., awake to asleep), and between activities (e.g., cleaning up, saying “Goodbye”).
What music should we choose?
There is no “right” music per se. For young children, simple songs that are short and repetitive will be easier learn and understand. Slower songs with soft sounds (e.g., acoustic guitar, piano, wind instruments) and simple patterns will be calming, and faster songs with more powerful sounds (e.g., heavy drumming, electric guitar) will be more energizing. Songs that include physical movements can be engaging and interactive and bring a group of children together. Consider creating your own songs for everyday routines (“This is the way we brush our teeth…”) or social games. In addition, there is music created specifically for speech and language development such as my own CD’s Power Tunes and Make A Sound and Move Around! Physical CD’s are available available here and digital downloads are available here.
- Offer your child opportunities to take a turn (pause and wait at key moments “Twinkle twinkle little ___”).
- Slow down to give your child an opportunity to join in.
- Include accompanying movements when possible.
- Allow your child to explore rhythm and melody with child-friendly instruments
- Follow your child’s motivation by singing favorite songs together and by choosing songs with favorite themes.
- Make instruments out of household materials. Make a drum out of a cardboard box, or a horn out of a paper towel roll. Use your imagination!
Songs For Teaching is a treasure trove of music for children of all ages, interests, and educational needs.
The American Music Therapy Association is a resource for learning about music therapy and finding a music therapist.
Cooper PK. It’s all in your head: A meta-analysis on the effects of music training on cognitive measures in schoolchildren. International Journal of Music Education. 2020;38(3):321-336.
Gaudette-Leblanc, Aimée & Boucher, Helene & Bédard-Bruyère, Flavie & Pearson, Jessica & Bolduc, Jonathan & Tarabulsy, George. (2022). Participation in an Early Childhood Music Program and Socioemotional Development : A Meta-Analysis.
Rafael Román-Caballero, Miguel A. Vadillo, Laurel J. Trainor, Juan Lupiáñez. (2022). Please don’t stop the music: A meta-analysis of the cognitive and academic benefits of instrumental musical training in childhood and adolescence. Educational Research Review, Volume 35