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  • Jacqueline Chow

Why Music?

Greta (2006), has shared some backgrounds below which I find very interesting.


•Music has been used in cultural and social rituals of various societies (Quinion, 2004) around the world.


•Healing power of music was documented in writings of Plato and Aristotle (AMTA, 2004), Greek philosophers.


•The discipline of music therapy was formed after physical and emotional improvements became noticeable when musicians were hired to aid recovery of patients in hospitals post World Wars 1 and 2.


•In 1983, Howard Garner (Developmental Psychologist and Neuropsychologist) introduced “multiple intelligence” and identified Musical intelligence to be the first to develop and may begin to develop as early as 4 to 5 months after conception. He said that if an intelligence is not nurtured, it will be diminished.


•Some researchers believe that when children are not stimulated with music, the neurons (brain cells) that were designed for music development would atrophy and begin to support other developmental areas such as language or vision.


•Edwin Gordon (noted teacher, lecturer, author, and researcher in music education and the psychology of music research) supported the idea of diminishing intelligence. He believes that “just as there are no children without intelligence, so there are no children without music aptitude” (Gordon, 1990, p.9).


•Gordon believes that children are born with musical aptitude, and it is at the peak at the time of birth. He believes that the window of opportunity for developmental music aptitude exists, and it occurs between birth and age nine (Baney, 2002). (A window of opportunity for language acquisition is at 2 years old.)


What does science inform us?

Music and movement supports children's holistic development in all domains (Sailer & Guilmartin, 2019).


Cognition

1. Music mnemonics aid verbal memory and induce learning (Gardiner & Thuat, 2014);

2. Music helps sequence information e.g. The Alphabet Song, The Days of the Week, The Periodic Table!

3. Music captures attention (Sailer & Guilmartin, 2019).


Language

1. Listening to nursery rhymes, being able to maintain a steady beat, practise rhythmic activities involving the crossing of midlines, and rhyming enhance phonological awareness skills, which are precursors to learning phoncs and is critical for later reading and writing skills (Schumacher, 2013).

2. Rhythmic patterns in music can improve children’s abilities to detect and predict patterns in speech (Sailer & Guilmartin, 2019).

3. Variations in pitch and inflection in songs support the development of expressive language (Sailer & Guilmartin, 2019).


Motor Skills

1. Brain scans reveal that rhythm in music activates the motor cortex in our brain (Thaut, Trimarchi & Parsons, 2014), hence we naturally move to the beat when there is a strong pulse in music.


Social-emotional Skills

1. Music has the ability to calm us. It is a great tool to be used fore co-regulations in sharing calmness. Lyrics in the song promote coping strategies.

2. Tonality in music touches our emotional brain (Alluri et. al, 2011) and it is an excellent tool to teach the labelling and understanding of emotions.


Social Skills

1. “Stop and go” games are great in promoting self-regulations in children (Sailer & Guilmartin, 2019).

2. Music making in a group setting allows the practice of prosocial behaviors.



References

Alluri, V. et al (2011). Large-scale brain network emerge from dynamic processing of musical timbre, key and rhythm. NeuroImage, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.11.019


Gardiner, J. C., & Thaut, M. H. (2014). Musical mnemonics training (MMT). In M. H. Thaut & V. Hoemberg (Eds.), Handbook of neurologic music therapy (pp. 294–310). Oxford University Press.


Greata, J. (2006). An Introduction to Music in Early Childhood Education. NY: Delmar, Cengage Learning.


Sailer, A. & Guilmartin, L. (2019, Nov). Music Learning Supports All Learning. Exchange Press. http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/music-learning-supports-all-learning/5025028/


Schumacher, K. (2013). Alphabet Stew and Chocolate Too. Songs for Developing Phonological Awareness, Literacy and Communication Skills. WI: Oshkosh. https://www.tunefulteaching.com/product/alphabet-stew-chocolate- songs-developing phonological-awareness-literacy-communication-skills/


Thaut, M. T. , Trimarchi, P. D. & Parsons, L. M. (2014). Human Brain Basis of Musical Rhythm Perception: Common and Distinct Neural Substrates for Meter, Tempo, and Pattern. Brain Sciences, 4(2): 428–452. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4101486/

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