How music learning supports all learning
in a Music Together class
It is amazing what is going on “behind the scenes”
in your child’s body and brain during a Music Together class.
Learning to Learn: Initiative and Curiosity
Children learn through play, repeated exposure to a rich environment, and especially from the model of an adult with whom they have a close bond.
The class environment we create is structured- but free, inspiring and creative, supportive and inclusive, with both repetition and the development of musical ideas. This fosters the disposition to try new things and stimulates the learning cycle of play, discovery, practice and mastery. And best of all, the process includes you, your child's favorite teacher!
Movement is an essential part of a child’s learning. From fingerplays, small and large movement, movement in place and through space (locomotor), movement that crosses the midline of the body, the use of rhythm instruments and singing itself, class activities support the development of body awareness, coordination and balance, muscle strength, and fine, gross, sensory, and oral motor skills.
Emergent language and literacy development
Music Together song activities support children’s listening skills, vocabulary development, and the ability to recognize, discriminate and produce sounds. Songs are filled with rhymes, alliteration, new words, and we often sing on vocables (bah, blah, wah) which provides opportunities for auditory discrimination of different phonemes. Through song, children are exposed to the structure and sequence of sounds involved in languages.
There is so much to learn and understand about music and language development, I invite you to take a look at this in-depth paper https://www.frontiersin.org to learn more about your child's language development and its intricate connection to music.
Besides its many other benefits, the songbooks support children’s understanding that print conveys meaning, that letters are grouped to form words, and that written words represent spoken language. Likewise, the notation on the page help children to recognize that the musical note represents sung language and that notes grouped together form musical phrases and tunes. And the songbook is so fun and interactive, it reinforces a love of books!
The experience of songs and rhythmic chants in varied meters (how beats are grouped- like 3/4 vs 4/4), and the decoding of the structure of each song is happening naturally in your child's brain during Music Together class and while listening at home. Music provides an experience of proportion, patterning, sequencing and counting.
Think of how children learn to anticipate exactly when to roll backwards in a song like “Trot old Joe” and can predict the funny sounds to make at the end of a particular phrase. Consider how much their brain is processing to figure that out!
Another cool math/music learning example is that children as young as 3, (with sufficient experience) will begin to categorize songs - such as one song in a 3/4 (waltz) meter will remind them of another song in the same meter. That is a high level musical sorting challenge, and our kids are doing it!
Music Together includes children’s interests, ideas and cultures, even before they can verbally express them. Children contribute lyrics, gestures, sounds and large movement ideas to the group, which supports each individual child’s need for being accepted, understood, and appreciated, and having influence with other children and grownups. Every participant is valued for who they are and everyone brings something unique to the group experience, even the tiniest baby. By developing an awareness of others and seeing how each can contribute to the whole, children learn to appreciate and respect people of all shapes, sizes, ages and ability levels.
Children’s self-regulation capacities and emerging executive function skills of inhibitory and impulse control, attention, and working memory are developed within a song activity as they anticipate what is next, initiate a response and then shift attention, stop, and follow. This is particularly noticeable during start and stop activities like drum rolls, big contrasts, and freeze activities.
The Power of Music
Active engagement with music has powerful positive effects on children’s personal and social development that go beyond what can be measured in an academic way. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.
Music is emotion, connection, ritual, and complexity. It’s something we turn to again and again to mark important life transitions, to help us cope with loss and celebrate love, and to gather in shared purpose and community. Music is a uniquely human way of knowing and understanding the world around us, of learning who we are and how to be—and it starts in the first days and years of life. We are all so lucky and blessed to witness it and I am forever grateful to be a part of your child's learning and development.
The next time you pick up your little one and dance around the kitchen, sing a song while changing their diaper, or play in your Music Together class, you can know that big things are happening. Inside that wonderful little body is a brain that’s sparking, changing and learning with every note, wiggle, and bounce