Music is part of children’s lives from birth—even before: from parents singing to their babies in the womb to parents singing lullabies at bedtime to calm their children. But one group of researchers at the University of Vermont has found that music is more than just a way to distract or entertain children. Music can stimulate brain development: different brain functions and improve areas such as memory, attention, and organization.
Understanding how music affects the brain development
According to the UV researchers, playing an instrument in childhood increases the thickness of the cortex, the prime area of the brain responsible for controlling emotions. Thus, studying music stimulates the more complex regions of a child’s brain which encourages concentration, promotes discipline, and improves memory and attention.
When can my child start an instrument?
Learning an instrument is most advantageous from the age of four, when children are able to manage fine motor skills with their hands. Modifications to the brain, however, occur more intensely and are long-lasting when music is a part of their lives prior to the age of seven, when nerve connections are still forming.
Encouraging your little one
It isn’t necessary to start a child on any particular instrument to develop their brain with music. Music also helps them express themselves better and can be made a part of their day very easily: – Create music with objects found around the house. Pots, pans, even slippers are just some of the items that can be used for fun, impromptu concerts. If it can make a noise, it can be used to make music; – Expose your child to different musical styles. Create various playlists ranging from samba to classical, jazz to country. Include your favorite styles so you can discuss why you like them, but also include styles that are new to you as well. This way, you can discover them together; – Sing together: it’s been said that the voice is an instrument. Well, when it comes to the effects on the brain, singing is the same as playing an instrument. – Create games to identify the sounds in your environment: have children listen to and call out the name of the sounds they hear. This is a great game to play in the city or the country. For more on the University of Vermont study, click here.