The effect of music on children

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

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MUSIC is described as the universal language — one that even foetuses can understand. And with successive research data showing a correlation between children exposed to music and higher academic achievement, more parents are exposing their children to music — even in the womb.


While underscoring the value of music on child development, however, clinical psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell urges parents to choose appropriate, soothing music for their offspring both in and outside of the womb.


"Music is known to have an effect on the human psyche. It can influence feelings, behaviours and reactions to situations," she said.


Providing support for this argument, Dr Bell said that studies have shown that children exposed to music, especially classical music, are calmer.


But she noted that less anxious or better behaved children are not the only benefits to be derived from early exposure to music.


"Other studies showed a correlation between listening to music and better academic performance. In addition, children with autism who listened to classical music showed a marked reduction in autism symptoms than those who did not," Dr Bell said. She was quick to point out, however, that the reaction of the child to music is heavily dependent on the type of music to which the child is exposed.


"While children exposed to classical music and other smooth, serenading genres with positive lyrics perform better behaviourally and academically, we have also observed that children exposed to high-tempo music with aggressive content are more likely to display [acting-out tendencies] and are more aggressive toward their peers," Dr Bell explained.


When parents choose the right music, some of the benefits are outlined below:




It teaches patience


Whether you are a part of a band, learning a solo or just listening to it, music encourages patience. With slow music you are told a story at a gentle pace, you get time to process what you hear, there is no rush, just as it is when you are learning to play an instrument. This is a very valuable trait; it will prove very beneficial to children as they grow.


It boosts memory


Research has shown that participation in muResearch has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability. This is partly because the child’s memory stimulates different patterns of brain development when listening to music.


Children may perform better in math and reading


Studies show a correlation between music that stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development. This means that children could perform better in core subjects if an appropriate method is devised to include more of it in practice sessions.


Music could improve motor skills


While listening to music is great, getting involved is a bonus. Songs with motions help children to practise fine motor coordination. Learning to play instruments such as the keyboard or doing finger or leg motions of a song will help children to practise their hand and finger control — a skill necessary for writing and handling small objects. The same result can be achieved by dancing to music.

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