My wife has a cheesy ring tone on her phone. Do you know that LMFAO song “I’m Sexy and I Know It?” Terrible…and catchy! The other day the phone rang and the addictive chorus began to play (“I workout!”). As I looked up, I saw our one-year-old daughter begin to bop around to the beat. Next thing I know, there is a cheesy, impromptu dance party breaking out in the kitchen!
Early childhood, a period of rapid change and development, is the most critical early learning period in a child’s musical growth. This period of development has been identified as the “music babble” stage (Moog, 1976; Gordon, 1988). Even the youngest infant is wired to receive music and discriminate among differences in frequency, melody, and stimuli (Bridger, 1961; Trehub et al, 1990; Standley and Madsen, 1990; Zentner and Kagan, 1996).
Very few people would dispute that infusing music into a child’s life is great. But what does great mean? How does having a bouncing toddler in your kitchen correlate to real-world success?
Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests. UCLA professor, Dr. James Catterall, led an analysis of a U.S. Department of Education database. Called NELLs88, the database was used to track more than 25,000 students over a period of ten years. The study showed that students involved in music generally tested higher than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams. The study also noted that the musicians scored higher, no matter what socioeconomic group was being studied (Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997).
So what can we do as parents and teachers to incorporate music into our children’s lives? The easiest is to include a passive form of music infusion into your day. Flip on the children’s music radio station, or pop in a children’s music CD. Let it be the soundtrack to everyday life…in moderation, of course. Excessive Raffi = mommy that’s Coco for Cocoa Puffs!
What about children’s music instruments? No need to refinance the home to purchase professional-grade instruments and instruction. Start with a few basic instruments and see which style your child gravitates towards…
Another passive way to introduce music into daily life is through children’s music posters and bulletin board sets. The trick is finding ways to make the music decorations seem as cool as Dora and Ironman. I like the bright colors and whimsical design of the Music Notes Designer Cut-Outs.
The point is that music makes kids smart. The benefits of teaching music to children, and the effects of music on the brain, are proven to foster creativity and improve development. Find ways to infuse music into your child’s life. Close this blog post and download the Best of SchoolHouse Rock CD. Nostalgic bliss!