Playing music with toddlers could benefit their development even more than shared reading, and helps get them ready for school, according to University of Queensland research. Their recent study has shown that music participation at home improves numeracy, prosocial skills and attention over and above the effects of shared book reading.
One of the study leaders and Head of UQ’s School of Music Professor Margaret Barrett said parents were asked to report on shared music activities when their child was two to three years old and a range of social, emotional and cognitive outcomes were measured two years later, when the child was four or five. “The study highlights that informal music education in early childhood is a vital tool for supporting the cognitive and social development of children,” said Professor Barrett.
The study is part of an Australian Research Council funded study ‘Being and becoming musical: towards a cultural ecological model of early musical development’. It aims to provide a comprehensive account of how Australian families use music in their parenting practices and make recommendations for policy and practice in childcare and early learning and development.
In August 2010, Professor Susan Hallam of the Institute of Education at the University of London, published an overview paper on the impact of music on intellectual, personal and social development. Drawing on the results of numerous studies, she concludes that playing an instrument can lead to a sense of achievement; an increase in self-esteem; increased confidence; self-discipline; and provide a means of self-expression. While participating in musical groups promotes friendships; social skills; a sense of belonging; team-work; co-operation; commitment; mutual support; increased concentration and provides an outlet for relaxation.
She is about to (December 2014) publish an updated research paper.