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The Importance of Music in Early Childhood Development

by , 8th May 2016

Most preschoolers love listening or singing along to music. Studies show that parents who create a rich musical environment do not only entertain their kids but also help them to develop essential music skills.

Music plays a very important part in our culture. When thinking about everyday life, music is present in a variety of social and educational activities. We listen to music on TV or when we go to the movies. Most governmental ceremonies include a component of music while we use songs to celebrate birthdays or to worship god. Given this importance of music, it is no surprise that parents use music instinctively to express joy, and to engage or calm their children.

What Children Learn from Being Exposed to Music

Research undertaken by a team of researchers in the 1990s showed that the exposure to music from early childhood onwards helps children to speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary, and strengthen social and emotional skills. The psychologist Howard Gardner already argued in 1983 that music intelligence is as important as logical and emotional intelligence. This is because music has the ability to strengthen the connection between the body and brain to work together as a team. For instance, when dancing and moving to music, children develop better motor skills whereas singing along to a song helps them to practise their singing voice. In general, the exposure to music supports children in their development process to learn the sound of tones and words.

Copyright: FamVeld

Copyright: FamVeld

Music and Early Childhood Development

Many studies have investigated the importance of music in early childhood development since the 1950s. Two facts that are widely accept are that children do not express music in the same way as adults and that the years from birth to the age of six is the most important period for a child’s musical development. This is because even the youngest toddlers receive the tones of music and unintentionally differentiate in frequency, melody and stimuli. According to researchers, the early years of childhood are critical to learn to unscramble the tones of music and to build up a mental organisation system to memorise the music. This means that, like language development, toddlers develop their musical skills through imitating and memorising rhythms and tones of songs such as clapping to a beat and singing in tune. Without this ability children would not be able to develop their musical skills.

However, this ability to develop musical skills is influenced by positive and negative factors. Therefore, sufficient stimulation and exposure to music and musical play is necessary to help children to turn their potential into actual musical growth. In terms of instruction, the most typical negative influence on developing musical growth is when parents are not musically orientated and do not actively expose their kids to music.

Copyright: mimagephotography

Copyright: mimagephotography

Parents’ Important Role in Musical Education

Parents play the most important role in musical education when it comes to expanding a child’s musical horizon. For many years, researchers have been pointing out that children whose families are more musically orientated are considerably more developed in their musical behavior than children who experience a less musically orientated environment. Research undertaken by Kelley and Sutton-Smith explains this situation well with clear examples: the two researchers developed case studies that followed the early childhood years of three girls whose families had different musical backgrounds. While the parents of the first girl were professional musicians, the parents of the second girl practiced music from a non-professional background. Finally, the third girls’ parents made the least musically orientated choices due to their own non-musical background. The researchers’ findings suggest that there was a major difference between the two families who exposed their girls to a varying degree of music and the family who did not engage in integrating musical education at all. They concluded that a rich musical environment at home fosters a child’s exposure to music and improves a child’s music ability. Further research also indicates that parents develop a stronger bond to their children when they enjoy music together. This way music is not only a tool that contributes to the growth and development of a child but it also helps the family to spend quality time and have fun.

Copyright: gpointstudio

Copyright: gpointstudio

The Grand Finalé

Since there is no negative consequence to the idea to connect children with music, it is an activity that parents can enjoy with their children as often as possible. Even if the regular dose of listening to classical music is not likely to result in sudden ability improvements, it has a positive impact on a child’s rhythm, movement, and social and listening skills in the long run. Additionally, there are many short-term benefits. Listening to music can be calming, entertaining and fun for parents and children. In this sense, it does not matter whether the setting is a quiet room with a parent or a busy outside or inside music class with other children as long as the youngsters enjoy it.


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  •' Olivia says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I’m an Early Childhood educator in South Korea who loves to teach music to children. I definitely agree with this content.
    And I have a question for you- I love these pictures that you posted. May I use these pictures for presentation about Early childhood education and music? It will be used just in my university classroom. Thank you.

  • […] an early age develops the left part of the brain, responsible for verbal memory. For this reason, children who have been in regular contact with music are more able to respond to stimuli, concentrate and […]

  •' Vixi Farish says:

    Hi Anne, I am writing a 10 page essay with this title ‘How does music facilitate infant and adolescent development and does its influence stay with us in adulthood?’ your article has inspired some points I can make in my essay and I was wondering if you could help. In the section Music and Early Childhood Development, you wrote ‘Two facts that are widely accepted are that children do not express music in the same way as adults and that the years from birth to the age of six is the most important period for a child’s musical development.’ Howard Gardner’s research has lead me to believe that he is suggesting musical influences in infancy/childhood stay with us in adulthood. So my question is how do children express music differently to adults?
    Thank you for your time,

  •' Payal says:

    Thanks for making.

  •' John Benjamin says:

    This is a really interesting topic and should be implicated by all the preschools around the world! I personally believe that a play-learn kind of a learning atmosphere for the children brings out the most in them and also enhances their creativity. The montessori my kids go to just introduced this kind of an environment and its working wonders.
    daycare San Marcos CA (

  •' Esther Owusu says:

    Thanks so much for the article… Please what are the implications of music and movement to the early childhood education…

  •' Henry L says:

    Awesome article. Was there any chance that you could somehow cite the studies done by the researchers? I am writing a paper and need more first hand sources rather than secondary sources.

  •' Dineo says:

    Value of arts intergration in foundation phase

  •' ARP says:

    Hi! i would like to ask, how about children who are exposed to songs with sexual or obscene lyrics, how could that affect their development? thank you

  •' Charlotte J says:

    Appreciate it. Thank you for the post. For kids what is the effective way to learn piano? Also, piano lessons are available online at and others help children to learn piano? Usually how long do kids take to learn any musical instrument?

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