Back in 2007 I completed a Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching from the Institute of Registered Music Teachers. Below is a synopsis of my research essay as per the above title and always good to remind ourselves why early childhood music is so invaluable!
It has been amazing to watch the children in my classes learn through music, and it has always been intriguing listening to and finding out how the children have been growing outside the classes in their daily environment.
In combination with the information obtained on the four aspects in the title question (singing, listening, rhythm and creativity), as well as information received from parents of children in these classes through a questionnaire, I look at how these aspects impacted or contributed to the children’s learning outside the music class.
‘Most of a baby’s brain development actually occurs after the birth – in the first three years of life. It is the child’s experiences during these years that enable the brain to grow’ (Dr R Fancourt, July 2004). Fostering an appreciation of music through the forms of singing, listening, rhythm and creativity would naturally provide the experiences children need to stimulate brain development.
Music and language are so closely related that singing helps children recognise words, expressions and meaning through a simple tune. As well as new words, singing gives them a chance to learn action vocabulary, positional vocabulary (such as ‘over’ and ‘under’), and descriptive vocabulary. Through singing with books or pictures they are able to relate words to colours, objects, animals, emotions and more, all which can come to life in a song. Speech development can also be increased through the many other sounds and noises they can make with their mouths. All of this contributes to the process of increasing their intelligence and memory skills.
This sense that children have most fully developed at birth is a core part of their everyday lives. By teaching them to listen, whether it is to a simple tune, complex symphony or a bird call, teaches the children to focus, concentrate and become more aware of their surroundings. It teaches them high, low, fast, slow, loud, soft, and how to relate these to everyday things. Feedback from parents showed that, outside of class, our listening activities ‘helped with following instructions, sticking to something’ and with ‘general focus and concentration’.
A foundation of learning, right from a simple heart beat, rhythm is part of our lives. It can help children with their basic motor skill development, coordination and muscular dexterity. In conjunction with listening, children in my classes have gone from thumping a drum uncontrollably when asked to play a pattern, to voluntarily choosing a rhythm that they’ve learnt, and they have played it in time. These basic skills of concentration and coordination will help with reading and writing, and can also help in the future with sports and further academic studies.
Children are naturally creative. they have no sense of what might sound ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and do not perceive themselves to be restricted by any guidelines. This natural freedom to explore is an amazing thing to encourage during early childhood with music. By reinforcing creativity as a positive thing, it helps children feel accepted and valued, and gives them the opportunity to expand their creativity into the rest of their lives, be it how they draw a picture, arrange the food on their plates, play a game with friends, or make decisions outside their comfort zones. By expanding creativity not just in the songs they make up, but in the movements they choose, how they represent sounds in pictures, learning to use sounds from non-instruments and much more, we are providing them with a wealth of learned and discovered knowledge and ability, which will continue to prove useful as these skills are required of them during their growth.
As music comes out naturally in children’s play in any of these four aspects (singing, listening, rhythm and creativity), it is no wonder that i can have such an immense impact on their other daily activities. It promotes thinking skills, imagination, creativity and self-expression, sensitivity, motor development, team work and individuality; it fosters discipline and commitment, and develops intelligence in other areas. Early Childhood Music provides such an intrinsic wealth of ability, knowledge, skills and attitudes in children that they can apply, not only to future music learning, but also the their tasks and various other skills in their daily lives. this learning may help children to progress at a faster pace and have a better understanding and awareness of the environment that they operate in.