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  • Writer's pictureVéronique

12 Benefits of a Musically Enriched Environment in Early Childhood

“How beautiful would it be if our schools and our education program showed how music is a combination of many different cultures, and cultures are an expression of many kinds of music? There’s a lot for our students, not only from a musical perspective, but also from a global perspective and in showing them how they fit in as part of a bigger world.”

– Dr. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education (Source: NAfME interview, July 2021)

In the symphony of early childhood development, music plays a fundamental role, offering a myriad of benefits that resonate across various domains of growth. From cognitive and emotional development to social and physical well-being, the melodies and rhythms woven into a child's environment orchestrate a harmonious journey towards holistic growth and enrichment.

Cognitive Development

At the heart of a music-rich environment lies a profound impact on cognitive development. Research underscores how exposure to music fosters neural connections, enhancing brain functions such as memory, attention, and pattern recognition. Through active engagement with rhythm and melody, children refine their auditory discrimination skills, discerning nuances in sound frequencies and rhythms. Moreover, the structured nature of music cultivates cognitive abilities like sequencing and problem-solving, as children learn to interpret musical notation and navigate the complexities of rhythm and melody.

The video above is worth a watch! It highlights not only how the brain is engaged and active while listening to music, but also the "brain workout" that is happening as people learn to play an instrument. At The French Academie, our maternelle students have the opportunity to take private piano lessons during the school week and can begin to partake in the many gifts of music lessons.

Speech & Language Acquisition

12 benefits of music in early childhood education
A Wednesday choir practice in La Maternelle

The language of music serves as a gateway to linguistic proficiency, laying a foundation for language acquisition. Studies reveal that children exposed to music from an early age demonstrate accelerated language development, exhibiting richer vocabularies and heightened linguistic fluency. 

The rhythmic patterns inherent in music mirror the cadence of spoken language, facilitating phonemic awareness and speech articulation. Music serves as a conduit for fundamental speech and language abilities such as mimicry, breath regulation, repetition, and precise motor coordination in the mouth. Furthermore, music offers a multisensory approach to language learning, engaging auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities to reinforce linguistic concepts.

Early Math Skills and Pattern Recognition

Introducing children to music from infancy lays the groundwork for mathematical concepts. Music serves as one of a child's initial encounters with patterns, sequencing, and one-to-one correspondence, forging a connection between music and mathematics as they both impose order on chaos.

Emotional Regulation and Impulse Control

Through music, children explore the nuances of mood and emotion, soothing melodies or exuberance in lively rhythms. Moreover, musical experiences provide a safe outlet for emotional expression, allowing children to channel and process their feelings constructively. 

Studies have indicated that musical training can boost children's executive function, which refers to the capacity to consciously restrain oneself from certain actions. Engaging in musical instrument learning activates sensorimotor processes, thereby enhancing impulse control.

Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning involves the capacity to conceptualize, visualize, and distinguish objects. Engaging in musical activities fosters the development of such reasoning abilities, as children must translate abstract concepts (such as musical notes) into tangible objects.

Social Connection

Music transcends boundaries, fostering social cohesion and interpersonal connection in early childhood settings. Collaborative musical activities promote teamwork, cooperation, and communication, as children engage in ensemble playing, singing, and dancing. Moreover, music serves as a universal language that bridges cultural divides, fostering appreciation for diversity and cultural heritage. Shared musical experiences cultivate a sense of belonging and community, nurturing social bonds and collective identity among children.

Creativity and Expression

In the canvas of creativity, music engages imagination and expression, inviting children to explore the realm of artistic expression. Musical improvisation and composition empower children to be creative, composing melodies of their inner worlds. Moreover, musical exploration encourages risk-taking and experimentation, instilling a sense of artistic agency and self-efficacy in young learners. Through music, children discover the joy of self-expression and the limitless possibilities of their creative endeavor.

Sensory Integration

An integral aspect of child development, sensory integration involves the capacity to receive, arrange, interpret, and react to sensory stimuli (ie. music). Children can enhance this skill by engaging in activities such as playing, listening to, and then dancing to music.

In the early years of musical education, music is an active experience. It’s about playfully listening, engaging, and experimenting with instruments and movements. This supports sensory integration. There is not a right or wrong way to play instruments in these early years. Music, like many artistic domains for the very young, is expressive and experimental!

Gross Motor and Proprioception Development

The rhythmic cadence of music sets the stage for physical development, inviting children to move, dance, and explore the expressive potential of their bodies. Music provides children with opportunities to develop both gross motor skills and proprioception, which involves understanding the spatial orientation of their bodies, as they sway to the beat, clap their hands, or play musical instruments. Moreover, rhythmic movement synchronizes neural pathways, fostering coordination, balance, and spatial awareness in young learners.

Cultural Appreciation

Music weaves together diverse traditions, stories, and heritage into early childhood experiences. Exposure to a variety of musical genres exposes children to global cultures, fostering cultural appreciation and understanding. Through multicultural musical experiences, children gain insights into customs, rituals, and perspectives, promoting intercultural awareness and respect. Moreover, music provides a platform for celebrating diversity, fostering inclusivity and cultural pride among children from various backgrounds.

Parent-Child Bonding

In parent-child interactions, music emerges as a powerful tool for bonding and attachment. Shared musical experiences create intimate moments of connection, strengthening the parent-child relationship and promoting secure attachment. Whether through lullabies, sing-alongs, or musical play, parents and caregivers forge lasting bonds with their children, nurturing trust, and emotional intimacy. Moreover, musical activities provide opportunities for positive reinforcement and mutual enjoyment, fostering a sense of joy and connection in parent-child interactions.

Academic Readiness

Research suggests that children exposed to music exhibit enhanced cognitive abilities, academic performance, and literacy skills. Musical training refines executive functions such as attention, memory, and self-regulation, laying a robust foundation for academic success. Moreover, the structured nature of musical education instills discipline, perseverance, and goal-setting skills in young learners, fostering a growth mindset and a passion for learning.

Musical education can begin at any age, when you and your child are ready for it. 

At the French Academie, musical education is woven into the earliest life experiences and in daily interactions with caregivers. Songs are sung between transitions, to teach new concepts, as well as cultural appreciation. Formal piano instruction begins in the preschool classroom if families choose to participate. Some children might be ready to sit for a 30-minute piano lesson at 4 years of age, and some may need some more time. Readiness is child-dependent. Music in the early years is generally about play, exploration, and self-expression, and we do our best to keep instruction light and fun for our budding musicians.

During childhood development, a music-rich environment serves as a catalyst for holistic growth and enrichment. From cognitive and emotional development to social connection and cultural appreciation, music has a multitude of benefits that resonate across every facet of a child's development. As educators, caregivers, and advocates, we aim to create an environment in which every child is empowered to flourish and thrive with the transformative power of music.

Interested in visiting The French Académie?

Our students not only benefit from the priceless gift of the French language, but also weekly forest school, Montessori activities and practical life skills, Reggio Emilia creative project explorations, steam and cultural learning in our on-site learning kitchen, and musical engagement that is built into our curriculum alongside weekly piano lessons offered to our preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten students.

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