The Astounding Effects of Music on Child Development

The Effects of Music on Child Development – DD Issue #3


Welcome to Developmental Digest, Issue #3 – The Effects of Music on Child Development.

This is a series of posts where I take a look at some interesting things, all to do with parenting and child development, that have caught my eye recently.

I have decided that each issue will now have a focus to make it more useful as a reference tool and a place where you can find loads of great links and further reading all to do with one topic.

This week I’ve decided to collect together some of the best sources I could find all about the effects of music on child development.

These resources are a mix of research papers – old and new (but still relevant), news articles and blog posts – anything that I think’s fascinating or helpful for a better understanding of the effects of music on child development.

This Week on Developmental Digest – The Effects of Music on Child Development:

Music has a power of forming the character, and should therefore be introduced into the education of the young. ~ Aristotle

Music is a very powerful thing!

It can invoke memories and emotions like nothing else.

For centuries, our ancestors have sung songs, danced and played music.

Today, music is a massive part of modern life. Music transcends race and culture and as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once observed, “…music is the universal language of mankind”.

But did you also know that music can be beneficial for child development?

In this issue of developmental digest I’ve collected some of the most interesting information I could find about the benefits of music for kids (all the titles are clickable links).

So, here we go:

Music is a Great Way for Parents to Bond with Their Children and Aids Development As Well

Music can be great for bonding

I thought I’d kick this off with a post I have mentioned before (but it’s so good I thought I’d mention it again).

This great post by Robert Myers, PhD, looks at the effects of music on a child’s development as well as ways in which music can be a lovely way to bond with your child.

He writes about the effects music can have on brain development – how it has been found to actually increase white and grey matter in the brain and increase blood flow.

And how music has also been found to have a positive effect on academic success and concentration in children.

He ends the post with a lovely section about the ways in which a shared love of music can bring you closer to your children, including singing, learning to play an instrument and going to a concert together.

I know this to be true, and my little boy and I will often dance and *cough* ‘sing’ together.

We have always sung to him, and particularly when he was younger, it really helped to calm him. He often stops whatever he’s doing and does a funny little dance wiggle if he ever hears music now. Cute.

The Benefits of Music for Kids and How to Introduce Them to it

This is a another super post I read over at momlovesbest.

It explains some of the benefits of music for babies as well as eight terrific tips for how to weave music into your child’s life.

They have also made a really awesome info-graphic – that alone is worth the visit to their page!

Music Has Been Found to Boost Children’s Self Esteem

This is a study which looked at the effects of three years of piano instruction. It involved 117 fourth-grade children who went to public schools in Montreal.

The children involved had never had any formal piano instruction before, didn’t own a piano and their family income was below 40,000 Canadian dollars.

The children who participated in this study were each given a free individual piano lesson each week for three years.

They were tested before the lessons started and after the three years was over.

There was found to be a significant positive effect on the children’s self confidence.

Way to go music!

The Effects of Music on Child Development in the Early Years

The effects of music on baby development

This is a very interesting report written by Nicola Burke for the The British Association for Early Childhood Education.

It talks about musical development and how it is linked to other areas of child development such as language, emotional and physical development.

It’s broken down by age and gives loads of examples of ways parents and carers can provide a safe musical environment and plenty of ideas and activities to try out.

What if Every Child Had Access to Music Education From Birth?

This is a brilliantly informative TEDx video by Anita Collins who is a musician and music teacher.

She talks about some of the effects of music on child development and looks at research carried out by neuroscientists on music’s effects on the brain.

She explains that music affects three different areas of the brain at once – the visual,  motor and auditory cortices and says how music can be like having a full brain workout!

I found this video fascinating (it’s broken up by some nice little animations) and is definitely worth a watch.

Does Music Change a Child’s Brain?

While we’re on videos, here’s another interesting TEDx one.

This one was presented by John Iversen who is a UCSD neuroscientist studying music, language and the brain.

In it, he talks about the effect of music on a child’s brain and how music may actually enlarge certain areas.

He also mentions research into positive links between music and language and other academic skills.

The Effects of Music on Child Development -its Impact on Intellectual, Social and Personal Development

This is a super summary paper which looks at loads of research on the effects of music on child development.

It goes into particular detail about the influence music can have on languague, literacy, numeracy and intellectual development.

It’s well worth a read if you want a nice overview of a wide range of research into the benefits of music for kids.

The Impact of Music on Child Learning

The impact of music on child learning

This article provides another great review of studies on the effects of music education.

It looks at papers published between 1995 – 2011 and focuses on the effects of music on cognitive, social-emotional, and motor development in children.

It reviews twenty-one studies in all. Eighteen of which focused on cognitive functioning.

All of them, with three exceptions, reported positive or moderate positive effects.

And every study on social-emotional and motor functioning showed positive effects of music education.

The authors concluded that exposure to music and musical education can have a positive influence on child development.

The Effects of Music on Cognitive Development

Here’s another paper which shows that listening to music and taking music lessons can have both short and long term benefits to child cognitive development.

The author writes that music lessons can be particularly beneficial for children and explains that his may be because:

  • they are a school-like activity that many children enjoy
  • multiple skills are trained in music lessons
  • music can improve reasoning skills
  • learning about music is similar to learning a second language.

This is How Playing a Musical Instrument Can Improve Your Brain

Playing an instrument can be better than just listening to music

This article was written by Dawn Rose, Researcher in the Psychology of Music and Dance, University of Hertfordshire, for the World Economic Forum (the site actually has loads of great posts about child development – worth checking out as it’s definitely not all business!)

It’s a brilliant post in which she talks about the benefits of playing music over just listening to it.

Rose explains how learning to play an instrument can improve motor skills and make kids better at solving problems and identifying patterns.

She also talks about how music can impact on social development and make children less anxious.

Well worth checking out!

Some Advice From the BBC

This is a little article on the CBeebies website. It has a brief look at why music is important for child development.

The article explains about the benefits of singing to children and how rhymes with actions can help them to learn (I’ve talked about this before in my post about the benefits of nursery rhymes).

It also has some fun musical ideas you can do with your children.

Some More Great Musical Ideas and Activities

Musical activities to improve child development

This is another fun post which has plenty of musical games and activities for kids.

They’re aimed at children in class but many could definitely be tweaked and adapted if you just have one or two children at home with you.

Well that’s it for now.

I plan to keep this issue updated if I stumble upon any new and exciting posts/papers about the positive effects of music on children.

If you know of any that could be included please email me and/or leave a comment below and I’ll check them out.

If there are any topics you would like to see in a future issue please leave a comment below and I’ll see what I can do!

As always, if you enjoyed reading this post or found it interesting or useful please share and follow/subscribe using the buttons below. Thanks!

Let’s nurture those neurons!

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