The Key Benefits of Music in Early Childhood: Part One – MOTOR SKILLS
Did you know…? Singing songs and rhymes together is a great way to develop a huge number of skills for little ones in a fun and engaging way. One researcher in neuroscience and music education at the University of Canberra describes the effects of music as “a whole brain workout!”
Great for brain development…
Sharing songs and music with infants has long been a tool for both soothing and teaching them, but research in the last decade or so has come to further prove just how important music can be in early learning and those first crucial years of brain development. Through our forthcoming series of monthly blogs, we will begin to highlight and share the benefits music classes can have for both you and your little one.
What are motor skills?
Through hands-on music classes like Music Makers, babies and young children are regularly exposed to activities that help develop their motor skills, which are essentially the body’s ability to manage the process of movement. This happens with the brain, muscles and nervous system all working together. Motor skills in little ones include things like crawling and reaching out to grab onto things, and they eventually progress to being able to hold and shake an instrument in time to a steady beat, for example. Babies are not born with the skill of coordination and this is something that develops over time, with lots and LOTS of practise!
How can music help?
There are many great songs out there for developing motor skills, from finger play songs such as the traditional favourite ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I caught a Fish Alive’ to full body action songs like our very own ‘Can you Clap and Stop?’. The best thing is that many action songs can be adapted for young babies right through to preschoolers; from babes in arms, to sitters, to walkers.
What kind of instruments should I introduce first?
At Music Makers, we centre our sessions round each child having their own music kit, comprising of some essential resources perfect for little hands. Week upon week, little ones become more familiar with the resources in their kit and also how they can use them. For example, using an egg shaker to help mark out and hear the beat in a song. Our egg shakers are light in weight and make a lovely, gentle sound when they are shaken, so they are perfect for babies as well as our moving and dancing preschoolers! Learning to grasp and hold such an instrument is a great way to build up those tiny muscles in little hands, alongside the control and coordination of just how that simple action works. Once a little one has worked out how to hold objects, the percussion world becomes their oyster, with handbells or jingle sticks, maracas, claves (tapsticks to us!) and so much more to explore!
Learning through imitation…
You’ll hear this a lot from us at Music Makers as it’s something we champion and believe very firmly in. It’s not about clamping those little hands round instruments and doing the work for your little one, but more about you showing them how to join in and enjoy music making by actively engaging with songs in front of them and alongside them. Their little growing brains will take your lead and begin exploring their physical possibilities in reaction to you and their musical surroundings. Remember, we are talking about little ones as individuals and they will all develop and grow at their own pace. For you both to get the best out of shared musical activities, you need to switch off from everything else in life for that short period of time (phones, inhibitions, etc!) and take the time to fully engage with each other and absorb the joyous exchange between each other – that’s when the learning really ignites!
More about Music Makers…
If you want to find out more about where and when Music Makers sessions take place, please visit our sessions page. You can also find our latest album ‘Sing, Play, Dance’, a fabulous collection of both old and new songs for little ones, on Spotify and all other main streaming services.