By Sinead Hamill
I often wonder if there is a stronger, more connecting force than music. It resonates with everyone on some level and is a major universal connecting tool which we have at our disposal. It has the power to push past communication barriers, speaking to everyone. Babies demonstrate pitch, tone and rhythmic knowledge long before they can even speak. People who are deaf or hard of hearing experience the rhythmic sensations produced from music, connecting them with the piece. Music is a universal language which goes deeper into the hearts and minds of people than words ever could. It unites people from all over the world, young and old.
Used in education, it can produce wonderful outcomes
Set the scene: Played in the background, music can promote a peaceful, stress-reduced environment, allowing children to become fully immersed in their work and play.
‘The Mozart Effect’: Listening to classical music such as Mozart is thought to improve our mental performances, by connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain, developing our thinking skills and making the learning process easier.
Multiple intelligences: American Developmental Psychologist Howard Gardner spoke of multiple intelligences, which would suggest our current education system needs to be upskilled in order to cater for the learning needs and preferences of all students. Those gifted with musical intelligence as well as logical-mathematical, linguistic and interpersonal learners are all thought to benefit from music.
Inclusive education: Music is something we can all identify with and is a powerful tool for exploring cultures and learning foreign languages. It creates an atmosphere for social bonding to take place, stimulating emotions and encouraging cameradery.
Emotional connection: As previously said, music stimulates emotions - which we tend to remember quicker than factual information - so combining the two can help improve our memories. Creating joyful, fun musical lessons can aid children in retaining and recalling information with ease.
Preparation for reading and writing: Rhythm, beat and aural discrimination are practised in music lessons. Children listen for familiar patterns, melodies and lyrics; this helps prepare them for learning to read and write, when they will listen for rhythms, tones and rhyming words. Music also helps to teach new vocabulary and the correct pronunciation of words.
Using music to support young children’s learning
Fun: Learning through music is fun. It captures children’s attentions and helps them to focus and concentrate for longer periods.
Whole child approach: Young children need to move and be fully immersed in their learning. Musical lessons encourage movement and active participation, enabling better learning.
Self-esteem: Music takes the stress out of learning. Children are free to act silly, make mistakes and learn at their own pace without feeling pressurised to compete with others. Repeating lessons and practicing songs and rhymes instils confidence and encourages participation.
Creativity: Learning through music ignites children’s imaginations and has the power to develop new ways of thinking.
Co-ordination: Freedom to move during musical lessons allows children to practice and develop their co-ordination, physical skills, spatial and interpersonal awareness.
Transitions: Music helps to make transitions flow. Having a special song or tune alerts children to changes that are about to take place, so they have time to prepare themselves.
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” (Plato). Now who wouldn’t want some of that?!