February 2021 Newsletter: The Benefits of Early Music Education

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Music has always been an important part of the curriculum at Sunshine Academy. We believe in the value of musical literacy as an essential part of education, not just for the support it provides to other domains of learning, such as math, language and socio-emotional development, but also for its capacity to enable children to express themselves at the highest level of human potential.  Music is a language that transcends time, place, cultural heritage, socio-economic status, and many other limitations to human communication.  It is a means of unification and greater human understanding.

   As we move forward with the relaunching of our music program, which for now does not involve singing but is based instead on movement, instrumental exploration, and audiation, which is the internalization of musical patterns, we want to re-establish the foundational ideas essential to our music program.

   We start music in the infant program, because research has demonstrated repeatedly that exposure to music in the earliest stages of development, even in utero, has significant benefits to children’s capacity for learning. Throughout the sixteen years we have been teaching music in our schools, we have also observed first-hand the differences between children who attend our schools from infancy onward, and those who join later, in their ability to hear music with tonal and rhythmic accuracy, and to produce music independently.

   Aspiring musicians aside, children develop greater language ability through music, even when lyrics are not involved. Research demonstrates that musical instruction supports verbal language recall due to its stimulation of areas of the brain that process memory. Children who learn music also tend to perform better at math, due to multiple skills that music shares with math, including pattern recognition, part/whole relationships, prioritization of multi-step problems and visualization of solutions. Music supports self-regulation through turn-taking, reciprocal listening and cooperation. Combined with movement and dance, music enhances children’s body awareness, balance, bilateral coordination and muscle development. Music uses and integrates more parts of the brain simultaneously than any other activity.

   The single best way you can support your child’s musical education is to sing, no matter how you think you sound, at any and all opportunities. Young children respond best to the human voice.  Our ability to include vocals in our music program is, for now, limited.  We encourage you all to find your musical voice and share it with your child.  It can liberating as well as enjoyable.

   For more information on music and early education, please see the National Association for Music Education (nafme.org), The Gordon Institute for Music Learning (https://giml.org/mlt/earlychildhood/), or the Carnegie report on Music and Early Childhood Development (https://www.carnegiehall.org/Blog/2016/01/Why-Making-Music-Matters-Music-and-Early-Childhood-Development).  Or ask Dave!

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