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Do Re Mi Fa So: benefits of music for preschoolers

Along with visual arts, music is part of the “aesthetic and creative expression”, one of the 6 key learning areas that are being covered in childcare centres as part of the framework in our preschool curriculum development. Here, music is not so much about learning how to play a specific instrument which may be seen more as an enrichment activity instead for older preschoolers. It is more about the melody created, the sounds; it could be an instrumental song or it could be a nursery rhyme sung in a tune. Incorporating music can actually be a simple play activity without going in depth into learning about a specific instrument or how to master it. The inclusion of music as a key learning area in the curriculum framework for preschoolers shows that it is an important area in our preschoolers' learning and development. In today’s article, we will discuss some of the benefits of introducing music to our preschoolers at an early age.

  1. Language development

We can say that music is a universal language where people of different languages or cultures can still come together to talk about. You may not need to know musical instruments or learn about the structure of music to appreciate any piece of music. As adults, we are also able to enjoy music created in any part of the world even if they are in languages that we do not fully understand. While for older children in their teens, there tends to be an increased desire to understand the language in the songs they like, and this may translate to an increased interest in other languages and spur them to pick it up. At the infant and toddlers age, constant exposure to music in any language will be easily picked up by them as they try to imitate it. They may not truly understand the meaning of the words but they are able to follow the sounds and intonation more accurately. Using songs of different languages as a play activity keeps them on path to be bilingual, or more. However, the connection between music and language goes beyond that. Listening to music encourages early brain development in the foetus because music facilitates neuron connections in the brain. Since the parts of the brain that process language are also the same parts that process music, early exposure to music stimulates these parts of the brain that will be used to acquire language, making the process of learning language or languages easier in the later years.

  1. Social and personal development

Music brings people together and bringing people together means promoting social interaction. Music activities done in a group setting has room for flexibility and creativity directed by our preschoolers. There are opportunities for children to come together to perform something as a group apart from doing something only as an individual. This creates a channel for children to express their ideas and listen to those of others as everyone pulls in their weight towards a common goal - to put the performance together. This give and take process allows them to acquire understanding of themselves and of others and to also use their critical thinking skills.

Music can also be an alternative platform to express their feelings and playing instruments will also allow them to feel an array of emotions; happiness when they play it right or play it together and frustration when they keep getting it mixed up. There are also findings that show that music helps to increase one’s self-esteem and self-confidence. It seems that the creative involvement in music has helped to improve children’s self-image and self-awareness, and in turn, they feel more confident to voice their opinion and do not shy away from speaking to adults. This then helps to increase self-esteem and therefore, increases their motivation and belief in their own abilities.

  1. Creativity

As part of the domain of “aesthetic and creative expression”, music is another platform for fostering creativity. Unlike the main subjects of English, Math and Science where there is a correct answer, music and arts are free for children to explore and they are free to express themselves in any way they want to. While as much as factual knowledge cannot be neglected, soft skills like creativity now play a part in our technology advanced society. Having the ability to come up with ideas that others cannot is slowly becoming more important than being able to recall all the facts.

  1. Physical development

Last but not least, playing with music is a form of physical activity and music and body movements come together very naturally. When they are excited about a song, there will be a lot of movements. Infants react to the beat and the tempo of the songs and move along to them. Toddlers may be moving along with the rhythm using their whole body which is good for developing their muscles, strength building and whole body coordination. At the playgroup age where they start to understand the meaning of some of the repeated words in the songs, they will then start to follow the song and act out the actions that are stated in them. Using different musical instruments also requires them to hone their eye-hand coordination and work on their gross and fine motor skills to hold onto the different parts of the instruments. By the time they reach preschool level, they will be singing and dancing at the same time. At this point, their movements are much more precise and they will be using the smaller muscles in the arms and legs through their movement. This can also be seen through the use of the instruments. There is also the use of internal muscles as singing is different from talking. So the way they space out their breath while singing will also help in building up their internal muscles.

Nursery rhymes and songs are used by all teachers alike, at the infant or the preschool level. With many benefits of the use of music, it is no wonder it is part of the preschool curriculum.

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