Why Every Child Should be Exposed to Music
It’s the universal language. Music is everywhere. You can’t really walk into any store without hearing a back track, movies use soundtracks to stimulate emotion for different scenes, and from cars to phones, the capability to play music is hard wired into all of our personal technology. We love it! Music has been around since the beginning and has been cultured and cultivated over the years. As a musician, I could really talk about it forever, but even if you feel you’re not “musically inclined,” chances are you have a few favorite artists and have a go-to sing-in-the-car song. Music is stimulating and has an incredible effect on our brains, which makes it a wonderful tool for young minds.
Music- with or without lyrics- is emotional. Whether you notice it or not, motion pictures and commercials notoriously use soundtracks to provoke emotion in order to make a more visceral impact on the consumer. This deep-seated psychological effect is important in the social development of children- have them pick out how different songs make them feel. Identify the sad tone of a minor chord versus the cheerful tone of a major chord. A violin might sound sad, but a fiddle tune makes them want to get up and dance!
Music can also be used as a coping mechanism, whether to help children calm down or feel uplifted. It’s an outlet for kids who are able to play an instrument or write songs. Studying world music is a large part of learning about other cultures. It varies widely depending on which part of the world you are listening from, but the purpose of music doesn’t sway very much from culture to culture.
Language & Reading Development
An article from readinghorizons.com quotes Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, and she puts it best. “People's hearing systems are fine-tuned by the experiences they've had with sound throughout their lives. Music training is not only beneficial for processing music stimuli. We've found that years of music training may also improve how sounds are processed for language and emotion. For example, the trained brain gets better at detecting patterns in sounds… Playing an instrument may help youngsters better process speech in noisy classrooms and more accurately interpret the nuances of language that are conveyed by subtle changes in the human voice… When people first learn to talk and when they talk to babies they often use musical patterns in their speech.”
Studies show that since music affects such large portions of each side of the brain, oftentimes it is the same part of the brain that processes linguistics as it is that processes music. Since our brains develop very much on an exercise basis, this has incredible implications for students who are learning to read or speak a language, whether it be their first, second, or third!
A USC study also had exciting findings. “Within two years of the study, the neuroscientists found the auditory systems of children in the music program were maturing faster in them than in the other children. The fine-tuning of their auditory pathway could accelerate their development of language and reading, as well as other abilities – a potential effect which the scientists are continuing to study.”
Ultimately, the evidence of wonderful effects of music on children is surmounting. Music helps them learn how to read, boosts confidence, provides an exploratory emotional environment, and makes them feel darn good. Do a quick Google search and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed with research that shows what a gift music is to our children.