People who enjoy listening to music know that hearing a song they like can completely change their mood, put a spring in their step, help them relax and cause a dozen other kinds of emotional and physical responses. There seems to be a universal response to hearing music.
In fact, educators have been using these common responses for decades to enhance literacy in young students. It appears that even newborns benefit from hearing music and kids from the age of two can learn to read and write better when they are exposed to music lessons of any kind.
How can music education boost literacy skills? There are countless ways because every brain is different, but music lessons are a good way for kids to learn to hear, think and connect sounds together like little building blocks.
Here are a few of the ways that music and literacy are connected…
How Music Classes Boost Literacy
- Infants learn just from hearing: Educators have long known that reading to infants, toddlers and young children is an effective way to help them learn to speak. Kids whose parents read to them do better in school, especially in subjects related to reading, spelling and speaking. It only makes sense that if infants can benefit from passive listening to the spoken word, there should be all kinds of benefits from exposing young ears to music as well.
- Music teaches children how to hear: Scientists say that music teaches an essential skill called phonological awareness to children as young as two. The fancy term simply refers to the ability of the human brain to hear minute sounds within words and thus translate them into understandable speech. The skill is at the very root of all learning. The focused listening that early childhood musical education teaches is the key.
- Human beings, particularly children, are naturally drawn to music and are attracted by the sound patterns in melodies. But it’s not all fun and games. While kids are enjoying the tune, their small, sponge-like brains are rapidly absorbing a wide range of important lessons. They’re learning how to hear “phonemes,” the building blocks of spoken language.
- Students acquire musical and literacy skills at the same time: Including music in any curriculum for young learners is a smart way to foster their acquisition of literary skills like reading, writing and speaking. There’s even a double benefit to this approach because kids as young as three are able to learn music and literacy-based skills at the same time, especially when music is a core part of their daily activities.
- Hearing, remembering and understanding: Not only does a combined music-language curriculum help students acquire solid skills in both disciplines, it delivers three distinct kinds of benefits to young minds: the ability to accurately hears sounds, an enhanced capacity for remembering what they hear, and an overall better level of understanding new concepts.
- English-language learners benefit, too: One of the often overlooked benefits of early childhood music education is this: it helps English-language learners speed up their progress. Studies have shown that when English is a second or third language for a young child, music education has the unique ability to make language acquisition much less of a challenge.
Children in Music Classes Hear and Remember
But what about the more specific advantages that music courses bring to youngsters? One of the first things most educators mention is how music classes teach students to hear sound on a very fine level. It’s not about being able to sing with perfect pitch or identify a piece of music by name.
The ability to hear nuances of sound is a unique feature of music education. There is apparently no better way for human beings to develop this skill.
After hearing, it’s important for the mind to be able to remember. This is another aspect of music education’s power. The young mind, when it is regularly exposed to music, learns to become adept at not only recognizing by recalling sounds and sound patterns.
What does this have to do with literacy? Everything, according to experts, because little learners are primed to hear, remember and store large amounts of information in their brains. When the brain processes this data, it builds important pathways that can also be used for reading, writing and speaking functions.
If you think about it, memory is at the heart of most everything we humans do with our brains. We have to remember words, people’s faces, names, each written word we see and sound we hear. Music’s role in this is paramount.
When young minds are exposed to music classes, they learn the very essence of “how to remember.”
Music Students Have More Complex Vocabularies
Learning songs at a young age, either as sing-along exercises or individually, has a profound effect on the brain. Not only do kids acquire a basic vocabulary by hearing song lyrics, they also get the brain used to hearing new words.
Later, when they are learning to read simple books, the music learners’ minds are already attuned to vocabulary acquisition. Compared to their non-musical peers, they’re primed to take in new concepts, ideas and written information.
Music Education Promotes Overall Understanding
It’s not just about hearing, vocabulary and memory, but that’s quite a lot all on its own. Music education has been shown to foster a stronger overall mental capacity. Kids who take music lessons at any age do better in school.
Why? Music education helps children’s brains put “all the pieces together,” namely words, concepts, sounds and memories. All the building blocks of human intelligence fall into place when young minds are exposed to music courses.
The Big Picture for Music and Literacy
At Prodigies Music (prodigies.com), our professionals know all about the deep connection between literacy and music learning. That’s why we encourage children of all ages to have fun in their classes.
We help parents choose the right program of study for students based on what the kids are interested in and how they choose to learn. Some youngsters thrive when they learn to sing. Others prefer to get their little hands on an instrument and begin the journey to musicianship.
Whatever kind of musical training you choose for your child, you’ll be making a wise decision for their future. There’s so much that happens when kids learn about music.
Many parents are surprised at the rapid progress children make after just a few lessons. Whether it’s a two-year-old learning to sing or a fifth-grader who starts studying guitar, music education delivers a powerful burst of well-rounded education to any child who partakes.
In short, kids who take part in music classes:
- Hear better
- Think more clearly
- Understand language more fully
- Possess more powerful memory skills
- Do better in their other school work
- Have more developed vocabularies
Whatever the age of your child or their background in music, the Prodigies team is ready to help.
Contact us today and see how music lessons can give your child a boost in literacy and a more successful academic career.