Music in the Early Years

Posted July 25, 2018 – AWE Learning Staff

Walking through a public library, an elementary school building, or even your own home, you often hear young children singing the ABC’s. Did you know learning the do-re-mi’s is just as important? Children are often exposed to music at a very young age; parents use music to calm and soothe children, express their love and joy, and to engage and interact with their loved ones.

Research has shown that musical experiences during childhood can accelerate brain development, specifically in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. While musical engagement has shown a positive correlation with increased SAT scores, there are many additional benefits of music beyond simply academic achievement. Music helps the body and mind work together, and aids in developing school readiness skills; including intellectual, social and emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy.

Many parents play music to entertain children; this exposure simultaneously helps their early learners to develop musical skills and knowledge. Music is played all around us. We hear music in movies, religious worship, holidays, celebrations, government and military ceremonies, theaters, and more. When children dance and move to music, motor skills are developed. Singing along to a song helps them to practice their singing voice; this interaction with music helps children to learn the sounds of tones and words.

Children do not express music in the same way as adults. The period between birth and age six (6) is the most significant time for musical development. During this time, children learn to unscramble the tones of music and build up a mental organization system to memorize the music. Like language development, toddlers develop their musical skills through imitating and memorizing rhythms and tones of songs such as clapping to a beat and singing in tune.

Are you good at math? Are you good at music? Research has shown that music and math are highly intertwined. By understanding beat, rhythm and scales, children are learning the math skills involved for dividing, creating fractions, and recognizing patterns. Playing an instrument has proven to develop physical skills, as well as cultivate social skills. Instruments develop physical skills by utilizing coordination and motor skills that require the movement of hands, arms, and feet. When singing or playing an instrument with a group, all individuals must be in sync. If one individual is playing or singing too loudly, or too quickly, he or she will need to adjust to the other members.

Looking for new ideas on how to integrate music into your library programming or at home with your early learners? Here are some ideas below:

  • Create one or two lines to sing about daily activities (i.e. dressing, eating, bathing, etc.);
  • Sing nursery rhymes during story time;
  • Have a sing-along at your library;
  • Play freeze dance;
  • Introduce new instruments and the different sounds they make.

Have more ideas on how to integrate music into the daily routine for early learners? Or into programming at your local public library? Share them with others here!

Join the discussion on music for early learners on Facebook.