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Four Important Reasons for Including Music in the Classroom (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

A child’s awareness of music begins very early. Infants can be comforted by quiet singing, music boxes, and musical toys. As they make cooing sounds and begin babbling, infants experiment with different tones and rhythmic patterns. Typical toddlers can frequently be observed clapping, dancing, or parading around the room, trying out different ways of moving to musical beats and rhythmic patterns. Young children are sensitive to musical sound and respond freely and joyfully to different tempos and beats. At the same time, they discover new and different ways to use their bodies and voices.

Throughout the childhood years, children’s major accomplishments in musical development in turn support many developmental milestones. One important by-product of exploration of music and movement is language development. Communication for the very young child is largely nonverbal, and music and movement can enhance and expand the child’s repertoire of communication skills and abilities. Children experiment with familiar word patterns as they combine words with a tune. They imitate rhythmic patterns and combine these with physical activity as they communicate through movement or dance. Children play with words as they change the lyrics to familiar songs or make up chants to accompany their play activity. Verbal and motor cues help children remember new words or sequences of words. They experience regular beats, changes in tempo, accents, and synchronization, all of which are an integral part of communicating in words and sentences.

As with all areas of the curriculum, developmentally appropriate music and movement activities will be successful only if you, the teacher, understand why music and movement are important tools for assisting children in constructing knowledge about their world and helping them make sense of their experiences. Admittedly, music and movement can be used in an integrated curriculum to enhance other subject areas, such as the language arts, but as Metz (1989) cautions, “Simply using music in an educational setting does not insure that children’s musical perceptions are developing... We need to focus on music as ‘an end in itself’”.

We further believe that, as teachers, we must be well versed in not only how to bring musical experiences to children, but also why music is so essential to the young child’s overall development. One way to facilitate our understanding of the “why?” is to look at the perspective that developmental theory has to offer.

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