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It is during early childhood that a child learns important behavioral skills, often at an astonishing pace. But what makes it more amazing is that it is also a time when emotions, more than language or any form of instruction, play a leading role in their development.

In general, young children don’t have much of an interest in abstract words or concepts. In most cases, they respond better to expressive stimuli and movements such as gestures, facial expressions, and sounds, especially music.

In fact, according to research from McGill University, all children are born with an innate potential to explore music that allows them to understand and feel music and its unique language. Most children show an emotional response to the expressive elements of music.

It is believed that this is because musical tones contain components similar to verbal communication that can be traced back before language and speech even existed. It is precisely this ‘musical instinct’ that allows musical information to be perceived and processed by infants even before they are able to understand words and concepts. That’s actually why many doctors recommend that pregnant women listen to music.

The same reasons explain how music influences early childhood development in profound ways.

Music influences on development

In addition to communicative factors, rhythm has mathematical elements which are not dissimilar to counting. Most musical progressions are made up of melodic and harmonic patterns that children can recognize. Music is even said to contribute to gross and fine motor development.

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Music’s positive influence is even seen among children with special needs. As covered here on Music2Spark, children living with autism can gain confidence when learning an instrument or a song and go on to develop their cognitive and social skills. Music can be a great way to help children with unique challenges to keep up with their fellow students academically.

Music is also a practical tool for teaching. Many teachers use music in the classroom to facilitate better learning. A study published on Sage details how teachers use music to build classroom rapport and engage students during activities. After all, music pleases the senses, improves mood, and makes people, including children, come together. As Maryville University points out, theory is not enough to influence students and motivate them to continue to learn. Creativity found in real life pursuits such as art, drama, games, and music are important as well. All of these provide the connection between what is learned in the classroom and life outside of it.

With music, children get to weave their experiences both inside and outside of the classroom into sounds that are likely to make a big impression on them.

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Contributed by: Carmen Anderson. Carmen is a music tutor and composer who is also a freelancer on the side. Not a stranger to mentoring special children, she is also well versed in the impact of music on psychological development.