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Music. It Does a Body Good!

July 10, 2014

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Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

Music is not only enjoyable for young children (well, really “children” of any age), but it offers a variety of learning opportunities, as well.

Several studies now show that when a young child is engaged with music from a young age, he/she is building connections in the brain that can lead to enhanced reading readiness and language development.  A recent study of 165 toddlers conducted by the University of Buffalo demonstrated that early and frequent exposure to music improved vocabulary and language processing.  According to the Children’s Music Workshop, “the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the

brain.  Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways.  Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

In addition, the relationship that exists between music and language development is advantageous from a social-emotional standpoint, as well.  “The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”

While the act of just listening to music is beneficial, the best types of experience for young children are those where they can actively participate in the music, by marching or clapping along with the beat.  When children listen to, repeat, and create rhymes, they learn to match the sounds of language.  And what could better inspire rhyming than playful children’s songs? As you listen together, repeat the rhyming words and encourage your child to do the same.  Introduce and talk about new words like rhythm and note.  Listen for new words in song lyrics and talk about what they mean.  You can also encourage the children to enjoy music and build their vocabulary by teaching them the words to your favorite songs or making up songs together.

So, for all the Ready Readers volunteers taking in this very important information, here’s my message to you:  SING!  It doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket (as my husband would say), or if you’re tone deaf, or whatever the excuse.  MUSIC = LANGUAGE.

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