How the Music Center Enhances Children's Development (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jan 26, 2011

Motor Development and Rhythm

As children create music, they improve fine motor skills, coordination, and rhythm. Music also entices one to move and dance. Participating in movement or dance activities while listening to music enhances children’s ability to sequence sound, recognize and respond to rhythm patterns, and discriminate melodies (Ferguson, 2005). As children dance to music, they increase coordination, flexibility, and motor skills. They develop body awareness and self-confidence. Like music, dance is an art form and a means of communication. Through dance, children communicate feelings, thoughts, and cultural values and beliefs.

When Curious Minds provided dance props in the music area, the children became more interested in using the center. They would often dance in front of the three full-length mirrors while rhythmically moving streamers or scarves. At other times, they would dance while playing a musical instrument. Young children naturally respond differently to sound and silence, fast and slow music, and different musical styles (Metz, 1989). However, adults can enhance children’s movement repertoire by describing what children are doing, making suggestions, and modeling movement. Adults are powerful models. In one study, children using a music center during free play copied two-thirds of the teacher’s modeled movements (Metz, 1989).

Language Development

Like art, music is a form of communication conveying mood, ideas, and concepts (Ohman-Rodriquez, 2005). As children listen to music, they hear differences in sounds, assisting them not only with music making, but also with speech (Miche, 2002). Music can also help children develop fluency (smoothness of speech), pronunciation, enunciation (speaking clearly), and vocabulary (Aquino, 1991). For example, children who are involved in music activities such as reproducing sound sequences, melody discrimination, and singing combined with motor activities and visual stimuli display a significant increase in vocabulary (Moyeda, Gomez, & Flores, 2006).

Social Development

Music links children to their cultural heritage, assisting them to acquire cultural beliefs and values. Listening to music also exposes children to other times and cultures and provides the opportunity to gain appreciation for them. In addition, as children create music together, they engage in a metaphorical experience, where different instruments combine to make a unique sound that no individual instrument could produce. Through this process, they learn that to make beautiful music, you must have unity and work together.

Emotional Development

From the time of Plato and Aristotle, music has also been viewed as therapeutic. Today more than seventy universities offer degrees in music therapy (Greata, 2006). Music helps to create and manipulate moods. It “has the ability to relax, give pleasure, irritate and deafen us, stimulate, excite, make us feel happier or sadder” (Federico, 2002, p. 534). With these mood changes also comes physiological changes to our heartbeats, blood pressure, and breathing (Federico, 2002).

As we have learned, through music children not only gain music skills and appreciation but also enhance cognitive, motor and rhythm, language, social, and emotional development. While children and adults naturally engage in music, a well-planned center can enhance their development.

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