We first met Jess as a teacher in a baby sensory class in London. We LOVED her. The children in the classes LOVED her! Her knowledge of music and the benefits it has on a child’s development was immesurable and her enthusiasm shone through in her classes. Now that she has left the company to set up on her own, featuring next week, we wanted her to share why music is so important for children in those early years.
“The most important benefit is the proven positive effects music has on brain development….and is most crucial during the first 6 years, when the most important brain development takes place.” ‘The Mozart Effect’ by Don Campbell.
Did you know that one of the first parts of a newborns tiny body to develop is their ears? Babies are born with a natural ability to appreciate and absorb sounds from the moment their ear starts developing. Research shows that music engages all aspects of newborn’s brains and to nurture this early can play a crucial part in enriching a baby’s development.
Introducing music at a young age has a proven list of benefits and does not solely provide a solid grounding for musicality but also enhances many areas of development.
- Body awareness
- fine motor skills
- gross motor skills
- sensory development.
- Language development
- social interaction
- learning through parallel play.
Through musical activities such as action songs, baby signing and rocking to lullabies, babies become engaged in the world around them and widen their senses from very early on. This is an easy and fun stage to easily encourage and support your baby’s learning at home. By singing in an upbeat tonal voice, singing reletitive boucning tunes with rythmical actions develops a baby’s sense of rhythm. Lots of tummy time with fun sensory props or musical instruments (bought from shops or made at home) in front of them develops physical development and strengthening their eye movements, and can be used to concentrate on their tracking and focusing ability.
By surrounding children in music, they can begin to master music making and listening to language and melody together. In their first year, babies are developing a sense of self and body awareness so using lots of body part songs and rhymes can boost this aspect of development. As children get older, musical activities can be enhanced by adding in rhythms for children to explore whilst they are learning how to shake, tap and bang whilst learning simple rhythms. This encourages children to work on their counting and directional language too e.g. ‘one, two, threeeeee = short, short, long’ and ‘high and low’ and ‘fast and slow’. Their physical development and cognitive development are being challenged at the same time, boosting all areas of their learning development.
As children progress and develop, using music continuesto provide the essential building blocks for language development. Children begin to identify and use words by combining sounds and blending them together. The use of nursery rhymes and rhyming songs play a crucial part in this aspect of learning development. Not only do the rhyming words help with understanding of the sounds of words but children recall melodies that they have explored before.
For example, in ‘The Alphabet Song’ children are familiar with the melody already! Not many people notice that the melody of the song is the same as ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep.’ The tune originates from a French Lullaby and was later arranged by many composers including Mozart who arranged “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman”.
One of the key aspects that attract children to melodies such as these is the use of the home tone; the end note and start note are the same. Children become familiar with the home tone and are able to navigate their way through the melody and recognise the tonal spaces in the middles. Through repetition, children will learn the melody and the next building block for children to master is the language. They have conquered the first stepping stone; the ascend and decend from the home tone, and this allows a clearer route to language development. Furthermore, songs group words together so they are easier for children to understand than just one single word. Here is an example; in the ABC song, the sounds are grouped, “elemenopee”, children will mimick the sound to the melody and eventually associate the meaning to the letters, “L-M-N-O-P”.