Music is Magical for Developing Kids
AblePlay loves play so much that it is even in our name, and it is what we live and breathe every day of the year. Play can take many shapes, and this blog will share a different type of play: playing music!
To feel the power of music, put on a catchy tune and just wait to see how many people start dancing. Old, young, boys, girls, it does not matter who you are; everyone loves music!
In a recent study by the University of Montreal and the International Society on Infant Studies, music and singing had a magical effect when it came to calming young children. Singing was able to keep fussy children calm for twice as long as speech alone, and any new caregiver and parent will tell you that is music to their ears when it comes to peace and quiet. Keeping kids calm is great and all, but can music do more than just calm? You better believe it.
By helping with development across the board, music can continue to be important to children as they grow from infancy to adolescence.
Full Body Workout
When people hear music, they like to dance. That is just a fact. It can be as simple as bobbing your head to a catchy tune, or as involved as swinging your arms while jumping around to your favorite beat. Babies have the ability to move to the beat as young as 5 months old and the more they grow, the more they move.
Dancing along to music involves the entire body, helping kids develop gross motor skills and balance as they “cut a rug” on the dance floor. All this movement also stimulates vestibular input, which is what communicates spatial awareness and balance to the brain.
Since music is more than just dancing, if a child picks up playing an instrument later in life, it can be a great way to develop certain all-important skills, from the fine motor skills of playing a piano or guitar, to the full body workout of playing the drums.
Singing to Help Speaking
Many songs have lyrics, and the more words a developing child is exposed to, the more the language center of the brain develops. Not only from a vocabulary standpoint, but as children sing along to their favorite songs, they are exercising their oral motor functions. This means children can develop clearer speech and can give them a greater control of their own voice when it comes to adjusting pitch, tone and volume. These slight adjustments allow children to deliver subtle cues such as sarcasm and emotion through their change in voice.
Plus, as children memorize the lyrics and tunes of their favorite songs, they are improving cognitive skills by involving their memory and recall. Studies have shown that when paired with music, the mind is much more able to remember important information than without music. Let’s just hope they learn more than “It’s a Small World After All.”
Expressing Yourself Through Song
Singing and the creation of music is by its very nature a creative enterprise. On the creation side, both singing and dancing provide opportunities for self-expression. Children can create unique combinations of lyrics, rhythms and dance moves, and even combine originals with preexisting ones, such as making up their own lyrics to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” To a child, everything can be music, and any surface a musical instrument.
On the consumption side, as children choose their favorite songs, they are testing out their own personality by deciding what they like and dislike.
Music Brings People Together
For children who are shy, music can be a great way to involve them socially because music is inherently social. Bands are a combination of different people and instruments, choirs have many people singing together, and even dancers need the musicians to practice their own art. Let this fun art form allow children to learn not only how to make music, but also work together.
As children make music together, it is an effective way to let them learn how to work as a team towards a common goal. This not only shows them how working together can make something larger than themselves, it is a great way to learn social dynamics such as compromise and mediation to make sure everyone is happy.
Music can also be great for children as they develop close friends. Children can form bonds over shared music tastes with other kids through both the consumption and creation of music.
With just a few of the many benefits listed of introducing children to music, here are a few toy suggestions to help bring music into a child’s life through play.
- Schoenhut Traditional Spinet Toy Piano: This 25-key child-sized piano boasts sound so impressive, it is the first toy piano to be played at Carnegie Hall. This is a great introduction to the foundations of music as your child learns to play a piano made just for them.
- Beamz: Beamz is an interactive music system unlike anything out there. Children make the music play by interrupting up to 4 laser beams with their hands, creating up to 12 different sounds as they string them together to make music.
- Magic Moves: The Magic Moves Wand has 90 fun commands and 26 musical tunes to get children up and dancing to the beat with this handheld toy.
- Letter Sounds DVD: Rock ‘N Learn has created an educational DVD that uses music to help kids learn the alphabet and improve spelling and word recognition.
- Mozart Magic Cube: This cube will let kids experiment with combining different instruments together. The cube has a button on each side that when pressed, plays a different instrument, allowing children to create their own symphony with a light show that flashes along to the beat.