This is because we are neurologically hardwired to be emotionally provoked by a piece of music. Even our youngest babies respond to the sounds of music, with studies showing the positive benefits of playing music to babies still in their mother’s wombs.
Many parents are amazed by their child’s natural gravitation to music and are keen to harness this love and turn in into learning. It’s a good idea too! To list just a few benefits, music is the only activity that uses both sides of the brain and studies have shown it to dramatically boost test scores across literacy and numeracy.
Music has been found to boost our immune system and also promotes active listening while developing focus in our children. This just touches the surface of the many advantages music has to impart upon our children and even adults. It’s impressive stuff! As a Mum with qualifications in both Music and Early Years Education, I use music daily to help my 17 months old son develop, learn and grow. It’s an incredibly powerful tool.
There is one benefit though, that I feel is seldom discussed in the realm of early years music education. Happiness. Nothing else, just happiness.
This important benefit is often overlooked in contrast to its academic counterparts. The joy found in art, self-expression and creativity could surely be ranked above (or at least on par with) the academia impact of music education.
We live busy lives and it’s all too easy to be caught up in productivity and being the best possible versions of ourselves. Perhaps these values are even being placed upon our children. It’s cultural. Many schools in Australia have lost funding for music and many no longer offer the subject at all. Math and science are considered more deserving of our children’s time and education with the act of children singing and music making as a class being regarded as perhaps frivolous in comparison.
Now more than ever, we need to be sharing music with our communities. This year across the globe we have all faced incredibly tough and unprecedented times. Music has the power to connect us, brighten us and even console us during times of grief. Music is therapeutic.
This is an image of my son playing with his musical mower. I didn’t purchase this toy for it’s educational or developmental benefits - although there are many! I purchased this instrument for its gift of happiness, and that alone.
My son is a music maker, he loves to toddle and experiment with sound. He is drawn to happiness and lives in the moment.
Let us continue harnessing and recognising the incredible holistic advantages a sound music education can impart upon our children, whilst also regarding the acquisition of happiness as equally notable. This is how I have approached these challenging times as a music educator. If we make happiness our goal, the rest will follow.
Written by Louise Lindsay, Music Educator and Founder of Gumnut Music.