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Enhance Childhood Brain Development Through Music | The

Early music learning rewires the brain enhancing cognitive abilities such as mathematics, language, and spacial reasoning.

Why It Matters

Children need to develop a “musical ear” early in life at a critical time in their growth and development when music learning can affect the “wiring” of the brain. Music skills acquired early set the foundation for success in all further music learning. Just like language learning, where we know to start children young to develop an “ear” for hearing and speaking their language before reading and writing, music learning follows the same sequence. Setting the foundation of music understanding at an early age is a key contributor to higher success in advance music learning.

In addition, research supports that this type of early music learning provides unique developmental benefits for the brain that enhance other types of learning. These experiences involve multi-sensory and multi-cognitive learning, which not only have a strong positive and lasting effect on musical ability, but also on cognitive functioning in language, mathematics, and spatial reasoning.

Music is also important in a child’s cultural life. Through active listening and signing, children build a repertoire of significant musical compositions and songs representing diverse styles and cultures. They learn that music presents positive opportunities for enjoyment and sharing with others.

Even though the benefits of early music learning are so profound, most kids have little access to substantive music instruction in early childhood because of a lack of resources, understanding or opportunity by parents and schools. The Tuneables easy-to-use program is specifically designed so all children can have access to this important learning.
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Music Learning Success

Children who engage in a substantive program of music fundamentals at an early age set the stage for successful learning of more complex musical pursuits, such as learning to perform on an instrument. What this means is that these children bring certain prerequisite musical skills and understanding of music to the study of a musical instrument. This includes a repertoire of memorized melodies with associated words; discriminating between musical vocabulary of tonal and rhythm patterns; coordinating voice, breathing, and body movements with sound; recognizing and manipulating the expressive qualities of musical sounds; and translating musical symbols into movements that produce music while monitoring the sound output for successful performance. Experience has shown that children who want to learn to play an instrument without these prerequisites quickly experience frustration or failure when trying to acquire them while learning to play the instrument at the same time. Instrumental teachers quickly recognize and appreciate those students who have a substantive early childhood music education.

Cognitive Impact

Recent research in brain growth and development finds that music learning affects the “wiring” of the brain. Studies have shown that music learning in the form of increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and performance skills, especially in young children, enhances the development of those parts of the brain that control memory, mathematical reasoning, verbal competence, and muscular control (Bilhartz, Bruhn, & Olson, 1999) (Science News, 2006) (Schellenberg, 2004). This enhancement occurs because substantive music learning involves widely distributed neural response in the brain and this distribution overlaps those brain structures that control general intelligence.

Bilhartz, T. L., Bruhn, R. A., & Olson, J. E. (1999, December). The Effect of Early Music Training on Child Cognitive Development. Retrieved October 3`, 2013, from Science Direct

Science News. (2006, September 20). First Evidence That Musical Training Affects Brain Development In Young Children. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from Scinece Daily

Social Benefits

Music making, especially in groups, can be beneficial to the development of social skills in young children, which has positive societal benefits. Opportunities to engage in substantive musical learning, games, play and exploration and to share these experiences with peers, teachers and parents are essential features of musical cultures that foster musical development. However, these benefits are most likely to occur when the learning and participation experiences are rewarding and enjoyable (Hallam, 2010). The selection of learning activities and how they engage children should capitalize on the child’s natural delight in developing concepts and performance skills and sharing them with others.

Hallam, S. (2010, August). The power of music: Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. Retrieved October 31, 2013, from International Journal of Music Education.