A useful summary article about the benefits of music education, particularly for babies, toddlers and younger children, outlining the following benefits and referencing the research:
Musical development – Your child’s aptitude for learning music is at its strongest from birth to 18 months. Children learn more in this critical 18-month period than in any other 18-month period in their life. The second most important time for musical development in one’s entire life is from 18 months to 5 years old.
Intellectual development – Music is the only activity or subject matter that actively engages both hemispheres of the brain at the same time. Those who begin studying music before the age of 7 and continue through the teenage years will have an average IQ score of 7.5 points higher than those who don’t study music.
Language development – Music education advances the early development of the auditory processing network in the brain. This is the network used to make meaning of sounds and learn spoken language. Songs introduce new vocabulary words in rapid succession and in turn significantly boost a child’s working vocabulary.
Literacy development – Literacy levels have been shown to improve by between one and three grade levels with consistent music education beginning from birth with activities as simple as singing, musical games, listening to music, repeating rhythmical or tonal patterns, and learning an instrument at age 5-7.
Imagination – Life without music would be bleak. Music opens up an entirely new world to a child. It enables a child to gain insights into himself/herself, others and most importantly life itself. These insights help to develop and sustain a child’s imaginative creativity. Because a child hears and participates in some music every single day, it is to a child’s advantage to understand music as thoroughly as possible.
The writer Kathryn Brunner, has been a music educator for 17 years in the USA, and is also a parent and music business owner.
Music is the most complicated sound the brain can process. But why did our brains evolve such advanced tools to create and enjoy it? Neuroscientist and jazz musician Charles Limb recently got together with songwriter and musician Meklit Hadero to discuss music and the brain, and the report is published on TED ideas.
Music is the most advanced auditory stimulus there is. “When we look at the brains of humans, and how they evolved from the brains of animals, it becomes clear rather quickly that the human auditory system is capable of processing sound at an enormous level of complexity,” Limb says. “Music, I think, is the highest refinement of that complexity, meaning that as far as I know, there’s nothing in the auditory world that is harder for the brain to process than music.”
For many musicians, the path to creation leads them through some very specific (often odd) behaviors. For Hadero, a musician who grew up in a household of scientists, “composition mode” is a sometimes weeks-long fugue of discovery. In general, she tries to “swim into a song rather than approach it solely intellectually.” She might start with vocal improvisations that sound like babble, just noises and sounds over a melody, and later she’ll excavate phrases on which a song can take shape. For his part, Limb’s quest to understand what’s actually going on in the brain during this instinctual process has shown that the area of the brain related to self-monitoring and observation deactivates when musicians are improvising, while the region linked with self-expression lights up. So Hadero’s babble in fact represents an important internal physiological change. “You’re actually changing the way your brain is functioning,” he tells her.
Research conducted by McGill University in Montreal that suggested that scientists may one day be able to retune damaged minds by exploiting rhythm, harmony and melody. Exploring the neurobiology of music, researchers discovered direct evidence that music stimulates specific regions of the brain responsible for memory, motor control, timing and language. For the first time, researchers also located specific areas of mental activity linked to emotional responses to music.