The Power of Music and Your Child’s Brain Development

The impact of music and how it affects the brain has been a hot topic for parents and scientists in the last ten to fifteen years. More and more studies are proving that children exposed to music have higher IQ’s, auditory development, verbal development and memory skills.

Music is an effective means for triggering and influencing moods, aids in communication, transcends language barriers and encourages interaction with others. The movie, television and marketing industries use music to trigger our emotional response or urge us to buy a product. When we lose someone we love, we listen to sad music; when we are on a long road trip, we tend to listen to peppy music to keep us alert or chase the blues away. To get us in the Christmas spirit we listen to holiday songs.

What Recent Studies Have Found

A Canadian study published on September 2006 in the ScienceDaily, produced evidence that children studying music had improved listening skills and general cognitive functioning related to memory and attention, than those children not studying music. Other studies have found that “assignment to musical training is associated with improvements in IQ in school-aged children.” The 2006 Canadian study explored how music training affects the way in which the brain develops. The outcome of the study proved that music is good for your child’s cognitive development, and that “music should be part of the pre-school and primary school curriculum.”

Northwestern researches have been directly looking into what happens after a child stops taking music instrument lessons after only a few years. What they have found is that adults with one to five years of music lessons had “enhanced brain responses to complex sounds, allowing recognition of sounds in complex and noisy auditory environments.” They had more finely tuned auditory perception, decision-making function and auditory communication skills than those with no music training. Those adults with no music training had less enhanced brain responses. Past studies were focused on the music student who continued their training into adulthood, spending a lifetime in music training. The new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience captures a much larger group, since most children exposed to music training generally do not continue beyond middle or high school.

Exposing your newborn or infant to music and song benefits them even before they can talk or walk. A McMaster University study discovered that one-year old babies who were exposed to interactive music courses smiled more, connected and communicated better, and showed more sophisticated brain responses to music and song.

A new study published in BioMed Central’s journal, Behavioral and Brain Functions, found that auditory working memory and musical aptitude are “intrinsically related to reading ability,” and they found a biological basis for this link via common neural and cognitive mechanisms.

The Bottom Line

Many parents do not recognize how music affects, influences and benefits their children. It can positively aid in their development and growth from the very start. There are many reasons to expose your child to music, even from within the womb. Here are our top ten reasons:

  1. Aids in brain development, including cognitive, communication, memory and auditory functions.
  2. Facilitates the development of self-confidence, self-esteem, self-expression and self-control—all key ingredients to a successful life!
  3. Provides emotional well-being.
  4. Stimulates motor skills.
  5. Accelerates language development and improves vocabulary development in toddlers.
  6. Inspires creativity and improvisation.
  7. Motivates concentration.
  8. Encourages interaction with others.
  9. Strengthens the bond between parent and child.
  10. Music is a highly powerful method of setting your child’s moods.

There are multiple ways for parents to connect with their little one and expose him or her to the great big world of music. The wonderful thing about music is that everyone loves it, and it is so easy to incorporate simple interactive action music games in the home or attending an interactive music class. Singing “peek-a-boo my baby girl(boy) or “here is your wiggily little toes” while playing with babies feet to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down,” may seem silly, but baby will not only find it amusing but learn from it. The rhyming and actions in many silly songs can help your child learn numbers, letters, words and concepts.

Music is a powerful catalyst for learning, creativity, and development. From lullabies to looney tunes, Bach to Rock, the influence of music and song has a hand in teaching your child. Participate in interactive music and movement classes, and play and share music with your child as often as possible! The benefits are a powerful tool for you to help your child grow through the positive power of music.

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