‘Children are born musicians, dancers, artists and storytellers… we just have to set the stage for creativity, learning and fun.’ (Stein, 2008)
Numerous studies have shown that music can assist and engage the brain. Many studies have established the impact of music on young children's language, mobility, and cognitive development, and it has considerable beneficial auxiliary effects in the early stages of development. The impacts of music on children were studied, and it was discovered that rhythm and syllabic music sequences had varied effects on their grammar and semantic processing. In regular rhythmic lines, children perform better grammatically than in phonological sequences. Texture encourages the introduction of concepts in language formation, while rhythm fosters the perceptual and cognitive order required for grammatical processing.
Meet Rohan - a well-built child with low energy levels, a general lack of mobility. Getting up from a crouching position and moving back down to the floor, marching, jumping, and any fine motor activity were all challenging for him (such as picking up small objects, using scissors, etc.). He would occasionally join in with "singing," but his words were muddled and he talked in a monotone or with a limited pitch range. We started sensory integration with Music and Movement. Individual sessions were meant to stimulate playful engagement to help Rohan increase his sensory learning. Rohan benefited from musical dynamics! Starting with beating a drum loudly, switching to soft tapping, and then returning to loud drumming generated a lot of energy and eventually control. Similarly an action song about a small clown who emerged from "far down low in the bottom of the box" to brush his hair, put on his hat, jump up, and triumphantly proclaim "Here I am!" helped Rohan pick up on actions. He can now go from a crouching position on the floor to jumping on (musical) cue to proclaim "am!" loudly and tunefully, and then back "down, down, down.”
This is just one of many examples of music and movement experiences showing very tangible improvements in many students, with special needs or otherwise.
Fawcett (2012) writes that we often overlook and undervalue the potential of music for young students. Often as adults, we only focus on activities such as drawing and painting and appreciate students’ self-initiated representations but not their spontaneous music behaviours in play situations.
He emphasises that although challenging to organise, it is important for us to focus on music and movement for young learners because of the massive positive impact they have on the mind and body!
Providing students with opportunities for music and movement can positively impact:
- Their cognitive growth: how they think, explore and work things through.
- The development of problem-solving skills, like logic, reasoning, and sequencing.
- Self-expression: how they communicate feelings, ideas, and thoughts through music, movement, or by playing an instrument.
- The development of physical skills like hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and balance.
- Social skills like cooperation, taking turns and sharing the music experience of learning how to dance and play instruments with others.
- The regulation of their emotions by learning to calm down, relax and control their feelings.
Therefore, if a program is truly holistic, that is one that nurtures all aspects of students' learning, it will include music and movement.
So how can you get started?
- Familiarise your child with songs and music they will come to know and love as they become older.
- Make rhymes for daily routines like circle time, bedtime and shopping trips.
- Be spontaneous, include an instrument!
- Use music as a way to spend quality time and build a bond with your young one
- Practice simple dance routines with simple beats to boost self-belief and confidence!