The Brain Benefits of Introducing Kids to Different Kinds of Music

The Brain Benefits of Introducing Kids to Different Kinds of Music

When I was in 4th grade, I came to realize that I had been missing out on this great thing that some of my peers were into — Top 40 music. I grew up listening to Broadway show tunes and Neil Diamond. I also had quite a few Sunday choir concerts under my belt. My mom taught piano, so I had exposure to classical music and many (many) repetitive beginner-piano pieces. Still, it wasn’t until my classmates signed up to do a song and dance routine to the one hit wonder “Hey Micky” by Toni Basil that I realized I needed to expand my music repertoire.  The moment the music started and my classmates started dancing I wanted to hear more. So I went home and turned my radio dial a few degrees to find the Top 40 radio station; I recall this being one of the first times I made a conscious choice – I was inspired to teach myself.

My parents, both music majors in college, were supportive. Still, it seems they forgot to mention a few things about music such as telling me that music could transport me to unique places with unique traditions and could introduce me to people I’d never meet; music could lead me to places where I could connect to the world around me, to make sense of the ways other people understood the world; and music would enable me to learn about my inner self. Turns out that, over the years, music has done that teaching all by itself. Nowadays, this information is something we know to be true. We may even intentionally play music to stir up a musical interest in our children because we know the power of music on the brain.

The research about music and the brain is remarkable. What we know now is that music builds confidence, boosts brainpower, enhances listening skills, develops motor skills and can improve memory. Music influences the development of verbal and literacy skills as well as build mathematics abilities. Music creates a positive impact on how children interact on a social level, and so much more! On top of that, there is a lot of information about the added extras from playing an instrument and singing with a group that promote positive brain functioning in the prefrontal cortex.

I wonder if we could just start listing this ‘conscious introduction to music’ as a best parenting practice. Lately, I realize I have been a little single-sided with my own children when it comes to music. I like to think that I have done a decent job introducing them to a variety of music — more than show tunes and Lite Rock. My 6-year-old strongly dislikes “original” music, his word for Classical. But, he adores Blondie and Michael Jackson and Pink. He also likes old school punk rock, thanks to a friend of ours. And, I can’t forget to mention that my 4-year-old loves jazz music. Recently, they both have been asking for more of The Beatles and those sing-able story-telling songs from the country group Alabama and the ever-famous Garth Brooks.

In the end, introducing children to a variety of music is not as important as simply introducing them TO music. Helping your child find music that moves him inside and out is a great gift you can give your child. I know what I like, but that doesn’t mean that it completely resonates with my kiddo. I’m starting to see that my kiddo enjoys a lot of the same songs I do. (Maybe it’s because he’s been living with my personally curated music soundtrack all these years.)  Which makes me think: it’s time for him to start creating his own soundtrack. I already happen to know some songs from my soundtrack have found their way onto his. Pretty neat. And I am sure that some of his favorites will be lovingly and thoughtfully added to my collection, too. Happy Listening!

 

Noteworthy extras

Your Brain on Music  Alan Harvey, TEDxPerth

Infographic on Music & The Brain

Music is an Important Ingredient for Child Development and Parent-Child Relationships  by Robert Myers, PhD

Video How playing an instrument benefits your brain, Anita Collins

 

A few ideas to build up your family’s music repertoire:

https://www.songsforteaching.com/diversitymulticulturalism.htm

https://www.selpractices.org/resource/exploring-diversity-through-music

Broadway songs for kids ages 5-7 (this is a message board! But a nice list of some child friendly music from Broadway past and present) https://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.php?thread=908858

Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2019

Image: © Kseniia Zatevakhina | Dreamstime.com

 

Rachel Morris
Rachel is a Coach for the KITS Program. She started with KITS as the Assessment Coordinator in 2010. When not juggling coaching and schedules for KITS, she can be found in her garden or playing with her kids and dogs.

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