Musically Speaking

Most people listen to music. It is the soundtrack to our lives. We all have favorite songs and types of music that lift our spirits and touch our soul. In our modern world music can follow us everywhere as we work, drive, exercise, fall asleep, and so much more! In early childhood programs music is used as a backdrop for children’s work, as a comfort for sleeping, and as a motivator for children to move their bodies. How do you incorporate music into your program?

The programs where I practice incorporate music in different ways. With younger children we sing songs that contain a rhyme or movement incorporated into the lyrics. We play music in the background often classical, smooth jazz or world music to soothe the minds and bodies of educators and children while we do our work. Some music is the work itself, inviting children to move their bodies in a certain way or pattern as they listen and have fun.

With the elementary children we sing camp songs that are silly and movement based as the same time. These songs are loud and proud and often the children love to lead and share the songs they learn at summer camp each year. In elementary invited guest musicians come and visit the program. The musicians bring their instruments and their skill to share with the children. This year the children have experienced African drumming, banjo, guitar, bluegrass, and violin. The children love the experience and trying out new instruments.

Early in their elementary experiences children begin learning music on a recorder and participate in school musicals that last during their entire K-5 career. Later many children begin playing an instrument beginning in grade four. Most children choose guitar, trumpet, violin, etc. There may be other choices in school but these are the instruments I have witnessed children carrying around campus. The lessons are a part of their school curriculum and if they choose not to play an instrument they participate in vocal and the choir. All of this music training has a purpose, to help children’s brains develop faster.

A recent five-year study by the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association said that music instruction, “Appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills.” Another article from PBS Parents titled The Benefits of Music Education states that children ages two to nine growing up in a musically rich environment have increased development in the part of the brain that processes language and that music develops our spatial intelligence that may help with solving math.

Children love music and it is an important part of their everyday experience in our program. Our children enjoy singing songs, dancing, and playing musical games but I the songs and games we play today are not that much different than the music in the past. Since we do not play popular music too often the same classic rhymes and repeat after me songs are recycled for the next generation of children. It would be nice to infuse some new musical ideas into the program without the use of too much technology. So I am on a search for new fresh ideas of how we can incorporate more music into early childhood programs. If you have some new ideas please share them with your colleagues, online, and in the comments below. I would to hear and share some new ideas with all educators to increase the access of music in children’s lives.

What new and innovative ideas have you discovered to incorporate more music into your program?