Have you ever wondered why kids learn the alphabet so well just by singing that annoying little “ABC” song? Turns out there’s a powerful connection between auditory memory and learning. That’s a fortunate thing, especially when you consider how difficult it would be to teach small children to recite 26 letters in order just from straight memorization.
MUSIC AND LITERACY DEVELOPMENT: THE POWER OF RHYTHM, TONE, AND MEMORY
Music is an amazing form of communication, with a wide range of healing and learning benefits that include cognitive development, and therapeutic treatment for people who have problems with functional and effective memory. It’s often used in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Music is also an effective learning aid for children who struggle with literacy skills. The link between auditory processes and certain aspects of literacy development include phoneme identification, speech signals, auditory memory, and the ability to discriminate between auditory elements that sound similar. Music also helps to teach vocal inflection and syllabic stress, which are important in learning pronunciation and sentence structure.
LISTENING AND ATTENTION
Music enhances listening skills in children because it helps them focus their attention, which is the key to effective learning. It develops auditory awareness and teaches children to learn and remember through rhythms and tones that are more distinctive and memorable than the indistinct stream of connected phonemes in spoken language. Children often find it easier to read when first introduced to the patterned texts of music, a skill they are able to transfer to the printed word by identifying recurrent patterns and configurations.
REPETITION AND VOCABULARY
Every parent remembers that part of their children’s development where they seemed to repeat everything they heard. This repetition helps them learn and develop vocabulary, a process aided by songs they sing every day in school. Repetition is one reason children read aloud during their formative years. They make an aural connection between speaking and hearing new words. In some school systems, young children who struggle to read and write improve by learning through songs and by playing rudimentary instruments that help them associate words with rhythms and musical tones. Their receptive young brains make the connection much better with music, and they feel more confident about learning.
The social dimension of music is also beneficial for children. Singing and learning together confers a reinforcing quality, which fosters a strong sense of community and belonging that helps children learn more quickly and apply what they’ve learned more confidently. Learning through music becomes a collaborative undertaking, with a shared sense of responsibility and of working toward a common objective. It also strengthens the ability to focus by requiring kids to concentrate on what the group (or class) is singing.
BENEFITS OF PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT
Playing an instrument teaches children to store and retrieve memories more efficiently. It improves coordination, helps develop math skills, improves reading comprehension, fine-tunes listening skills, and encourages creativity and self-expression. If your children express an interest in learning an instrument, try exposing them to different ones. This will help you determine which instrument might prove too challenging and identify the one for which they have an affinity. Consider also whether the instrument is conducive to the type of music your child likes. If he prefers contemporary forms of music, the saxophone or clarinet might be the right choice. Before buying an instrument, make sure to review an instrument-buying guide like this one from Music & Arts.
CONSULT AN EXPERT
Consult an expert at your local music store when purchasing an instrument. For instance, there are different kinds of saxophones (from bass to soprano), which you might not be aware of. Talking to an expert might help you find the right one for your child. An expert can also help you determine whether it makes more sense to buy a used or new instrument.
Charles Carpenter, Guest Blogger from healingsounds.info
Photo courtesy of Pixabay