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The more research is done into the connection between childhood music education and general aptitude for learning, the more correlations have been found. Of particular note is the link between engaging musical education and literacy.
There are a number of reasons why children with more knowledge of music theory are primed for success in other parts of their education and overall lives.
Here are some of the key takeaways from recent studies on the subject, including ways you can incorporate music into your child’s education, as a parent or professional educator.
What is literacy?
In order to understand how music assists with literacy, it is important to have a working definition of literacy as it applies to children.
Frequently, the idea of literacy is reduced down to simply the ability to read and write. However, that only covers part of the definition. True literacy involves technological literacy (the ability to use various tools), analytical skills, the capacity for group work and social literacy, and knowledge of the ethical requirements of each facet of a project.
By reducing literacy down to a child’s ability to read a book, several key aspects are neglected and can impair your children’s ability to learn in general. This is where the benefits of musical education come in to play.
Music and analytics
First, music helps with analytics. When reading sheet music, a student must be able to read and understand various forms of information, like notes, dynamics, tempo and style markings, and accidentals, in real time, and translate them while performing their instrument. This requires a significant amount of musical literacy but also helps to support the student’s overall processing abilities.
Reading music helps literacy in general because it helps students become used to analyzing all aspects of a particular work or passage, instead of just limiting themselves to what is easily understood, and then relaying it in a way that makes sense.
Music and dedication
Next, music can help with dedication. Many children say that they do not like to read, and therefore don’t take up a book in their spare time (or often even work on their homework). However, the regular practice and steely determination required to actually become good at an instrument helps practice become a habit.
If children are used to practicing one particular thing, it becomes more likely that they will use a similar approach in other tasks. Plus, as they see the results of their work in the music they’re able to play on their instrument, they will relate the practice to success and likely practice more in all other areas, as well.
You can help increase the power of your child’s practicing routine by providing a place for them to play, free from interruptions or distractions. You can try adding on a small room to your house, or converting an existing room. Make your child’s practice room comfortable for you, as well, by soundproofing the walls.
Music and communication
Finally, music can help with the other significant part of literacy, the ability to communicate. Playing music can help children learn about different inflections and the effects different pitches or volumes might have. For example, you may describe loud, aggressive playing as sounding “angry,” particularly when compared to quiet, smooth, “peaceful” playing. This can help expand your child’s sonic vocabulary and demonstrate how to use different methods of communication.
Music has many great effects on children’s minds and can particularly benefit their overall literacy. Try introducing your child to an instrument today to start enhancing their analytical skills, dedication to learning, and ability to communicate.
Author Bio: Charles is a staunch believer in the healing power of music.
As a child I took piano lessons from age 4 until I was almost 18. I learned so much, and I appreciate the knowledge I gained working hard all those years. I love being able to read music and plonk along to songs I’ve heard, or things I used to be able to play.
(My skill has declined a ton in the last 20 years of not playing regularly, but it’s still buried in there. I could bring it out with some dedicated practicing, I’m sure!)
Do you or your children play an instrument? I’d love to hear your experiences! We put Rose in lessons for a while, but with all our dance nights we don’t have enough time for her spend practicing piano at home. I’m hopeful we can revisit it with her in a few years when the girls start coming home on the school bus right after school!
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