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Sing, Sing A Song – What Children Learn From Music

Does your child love to make music? Then let him play!  Like learning to talk or walk young children’s musical ability starts early.   Simple things like singing a nursery rhyme or marching to the beat can develop your child’s musical sensibilities.    Why does this matter?  Because our inborn capacity for music can atrophy if it’s not used.    Consider also what recent research shows about  how musical practice builds mental muscle.  No, this is not the famed and discredited Mozart effect.  (The claim that just  listening to Mozart could make your infant smarter). This finding pertains to actively learning to play music.

Researchers such as Nina Kraus at Northwestern University have found that practicing a musical instrument improves attention and working memory and most importantly makes children better listeners.   Using EEG recordings, Kraus measured how children encode the rhythm, pitch and timbre of songs.  Her findings showed that the more you practice, the better your ability to distinguish different types of sound.   Kraus found that children who play musical instruments are better able to extract critical sounds from the chaotic noise that surrounds them.   This skill translates into significant advantages in the classroom.  Children with musical training are better able to zero in on exactly what they need to know .  They can then hold those key facts on the mental scratch pad of memory.  Not surprisingly, this more developed mental control has been found to predict academic success  better than traditional IQ scores. 

So let your child’s love of music unfold.   Music is a way of knowing the world as important as touching or seeing.  Take joy in your child’s musical play.   If music is a universal language,  speak it and let your child answer back.

Lisa Scalapino teaches Child Development at Vancouver Island University.  She is also a part-time School Psychologist and  Educational Consultant.  Questions? You can reach Lisa at
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