Tag Archives: early learning

Why Children Should Learn Music

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The following is from James Crocker’s blog on music and children, http://shapesounds.com/blog

There is a possibility you want your child to learn music because you have dreams of raising a classical virtuoso, an international rock star or a jazz legend. There are few shortcuts to such greatness; the route to Carnegie Hall is still ‘practice, practice, practice’, despite the glittering promises of TV talent shows. It is claimed that mastering anything -including music – takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. At the rate of one hour a day, that would take nearly 30 years! Unless your child is internally driven to make music (enjoying studying for hours alone, preferring practice to visiting friends and video games, etc) it is unlikely they will make a career from playing music. So, why bother?

Most parents know intuitively that learning to play music helps in other areas of education and personal development. Maybe you’ve read how music students are better at learning languages, or perhaps you played music at school and remember how it boosted your self-confidence? Scientists continue to gather mountains of evidence linking music-making with improvements in almost every aspect of life: language, reasoning, mathematics, creativity, problem solving, cultural awareness, health, fine-motor skills, self-discipline, teamwork, concentration, stress relief, memory, self-confidence, time management, patience, hand-eye coordination, and socialization. The question should be: why doesn’t everyone learn music?

Here’s some of the evidence:

A group of preschoolers received private piano keyboard lessons and singing lessons. A second group received private computer lessons. Those children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34 percent higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than those who received computer training.

~Neurological Research, February 28, 1997

A ten-year study, tracking more than 25,000 students, shows that music-making improves test scores. Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams.

~Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997

Second-grade students were given four months of piano keyboard training, as well as time using newly designed math software. The group scored over 27 percent higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who used only the math software.

                        ~Neurological Research March, 1999

Secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs).

~Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. January 1998

Middle school and high school students who participated in instrumental music scored significantly higher than their non-band peers in standardized tests. University studies conducted in Georgia and Texas found significant correlations between the number of years of instrumental music instruction and academic achievement in math, science and language arts.

~University of Sarasota Study, Jeffrey Lynn Kluball;
East Texas State University Study, Daryl Erick Trent

College-age musicians are emotionally healthier than their non-musician counterparts. A study conducted at the University of Texas looked at 362 students who were in their first semester of college. They were given three tests, measuring performance anxiety, emotional concerns and alcohol related problems. In addition to having fewer battles with the bottle, researchers also noted that the college-aged music students seemed to have surer footing when facing tests.

~Houston Chronicle, January 11, 1998

A McGill University study found that pattern recognition and mental representation scores improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period. They also found that self-esteem and musical skills measures improved for the students given piano instruction.

~Dr. Eugenia Costa-Giomi, Phoenix, AZ, April, 1998

According to statistics compiled by the National Data Resource Center, students who can be classified as “disruptive” (based on factors such as frequent skipping of classes, times in trouble, in-school suspensions, disciplinary reasons given, arrests, and drop-outs) total 12.14 percent of the total school population. In contrast, only 8.08 percent of students involved in music classes meet the same criteria as “disruptive.”

~Based on data from the NELS:88 (National Education Longitudinal Study), second follow-up, 1992.

Data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 showed that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non-participants receiving those grades.

~National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988
First Follow-Up (1990),US Department of Education.

Young children with developed rhythm skills perform better academically in early school years. Findings of a recent study showed that there was a significant difference in the academic achievement levels of students classified according to rhythmic competency. Students who were achieving at academic expectation scored high on all rhythmic tasks, while many of those who scored lower on the rhythmic test achieved below academic expectation.

~”The Relationship between Rhythmic Competency and Academic Performance in First Grade Children,” University of Central Florida, Debby Mitchell

A University of California (Irvine) study showed that after eight months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers showed a 46% boost in their spatial reasoning IQ.

~Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, Ky and Wright, “Music and Spatial Task Performance: A Causal Relationship,” University of California, Irvine, 1994

James Crocker is a musician, teacher and dad sharing ideas on how to introduce the language of music to young kids.  He is also a member of CMN.

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The Music in Your Head- How Did it Get There?

Music education is a vital part of a child’s life. Research shows that our abilities to sing in tune, move to a steady beat and yes, hear music in our heads, are all formed by the time we are 8- or 9-years old. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn to sing or dance or play the piano after the third grade, but the learning windows for musical aptitudes do begin to close.

Do you ever hear a song in your head over and over again? Can you imagine not being able to hear music this way? Audiation, the ability to hear music when no musical sound is present, is an acquired skill. Similar to thinking thoughts without talking aloud, when you audiate, you internalize and “think” music. To practice audiation with your child, leave off the last word of a favorite song. Stop completely. Observe and listen to your child. What is the reaction? When you play this game with familiar songs, you are engaging your child’s ability to think and “speak” with you musically.

Were you lucky enough to have wonderful parents who sang to you all the time? Did you sing endless rounds of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain” when you went on vacation? Repetition is a critical part of your child’s growth and development between the ages of birth and seven. Repetition aids in strengthening the neural pathways in the brain. So when your child wants you to “Read it again, Mommy!” or “Play that song again, Daddy!”, do it!!!

Babies are innately musical. They respond to music and sound in utero. Carla Hannaford, author of Awakening the Child Heart, tells us that hearing and language begin in utero and become the first window to the material world as the embryo physically reacts to sound 23 days after conception. Sound becomes the organizer of our physical structure and later, via the mother’s coherent heart rhythm, gives us the patterns on which to form a coherent understanding of patterns within our world.

People often ask, “What do you do with an infant in a music class?” Babies can be soothed with music. Brain development is stimulated by music. A Kindermusik Village class, for example, provides a rich environment of music, movement, language and touch for babies newborn to 18 months. This combination of music and movement stimulates the Vestibular System, the fluid in the brain. According to Dr. Alfred Tomatis, without a fully developed Vestibular System that allows us verticality and balance, language and learning become difficult. Language development begins with movement and is supported with interactive communication and music. Hannaford points out that early music education, including the interplay of music, movement and sound, is key to developing language, math, relational and learning skills, as well as creativity.

Toddlers love to clap and pat to the steady beat of favorite tunes. Steady beat is the unchanging, underlying beat that pulses through every top-10 tune on the radio. Different from rhythm – a combination of various short and long sounds – steady beat is what we tap our toes, pencils and imaginary drums to. For many toddlers, steady beat is an innate ability nurtured with lots of opportunity to practice. For others, it is a skill that can be learned through practice. The ability to keep a steady beat is a gift that we all want our children to have. A study showed 100% of first string professional football players can move their bodies to a steady beat. Moving to a steady beat develops a sense of timing and the ability to organize and coordinate movements like walking, dribbling a basketball, driving and using scissors. Not true for 2nd string. Kindermusik classes provide many opportunities for toddlers to play instruments and move to a steady beat and parents are educated about ways to keep music alive at home.

Preschoolers are exploding with ideas and questions. Creative music and movement provide an outlet for the imaginary characters that live inside a child. 3- and 4-year olds flourish in an environment where there is music, movement and an opportunity for them to contribute ideas. In a Kindermusik Imagine That! class, a child can explore voice and ideas, add instruments to songs and rhymes, act out enticing characters and grow socially while interacting with peers.

For a kindergarten or first grade child, reading readiness is an important issue. I often imagine how it would have been to have the language of music and the English language concurrently integrated into my life: learning to read and write music while learning to read and write language.

Kindermusik provides a whole child approach to music education. Children move and sing, play musical games, learn about music in other cultures, talk about and listen to the instruments of the orchestra, develop their discriminative listening skills, build self-esteem through group interaction and music making, begin to read and write basic musical notation and much more.

I often get calls from eager parents, ready to spend gobs of money on private music lessons for their 3-, 4- and 5-year olds. I first ask them, how are the children’s fine motor skills? Are they reading? How big are their hands? Are they ready to practice at least 20-30 minutes each day? By the time children complete a 2-year Kindermusik class, they have played a pre-keyboard instrument, a simple string instrument and a wind instrument. They are eager to pursue private lessons and have more staying power!

When you choose a music program, make sure it is compatible with you and your child. Be prepared to be an active participant and supporter of your child’s music experience. It could be the best investment you ever make.

Music turns kids on. So turn it up!

Thanks to Stephanie Bartis, M.M., for sharing this great article, orginally written for the Art of Well Being.

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NEW Radio APP = Kindermusik anywhere, anytime!

From Minds on Music- Kindermusik international’s Family Blog:

Dance, march, skip, and stretch. Swing your partner and then rock to a lullaby. Smile and laugh. Like Kindermusik classes, the NEW Kindermusik Radio app provides parents with a way to engage and interact with their children – while training the brain, soothing the soul, and bringing families together.

Research shows that music helps children become better learners. Toddlers love to dance, swing and sing as they develop their motor and aural skills. Preschoolers strengthen neural pathways by making up songs and rhymes as their imaginations run wild. With 5 stations to choose from, the Kindermusik Radio app will give you and your child access to over 100 tracks, the very finest and authentic reproductions of classic children’s songs, nursery rhymes, and stories as well as Kindermusik originals.

The Kindermusik Radio app offers a parent-child activity for every song, each activity designed to engage and entertain young listeners as well as stimulate early childhood development. The activities are based on principles defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Music Educators’ National Conference (MENC). Kindermusik International has over 30 years experience in developing early learning curricula and products based on the work of early childhood development experts such as Piaget, Montessori, and Greenspan, and the music education philosophies of Orff, Kodaly, and Dalcroze.

Sing. Move. Listen. Share. Anywhere.

Click here to check out or order the Kindermusik Radio app for iPhones and iPod Touches, available for $1.99 in the iTunes store. Or search “Kindermusik radio” in the App store.

The app was developed by Night & Day Studios, based in Portland, OR. They develop arts, educational, and entertainment apps and have created 25 iPhone applications, including Peekaboo Barn and Kidopolis.

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