The Importance of Music in Early Childhood

Dear Early Childhood Educators,

Welcome to the Early Education Corner, a little space on the world-wide web where we early childhood educators can “gather” and “talk” about topics related to our work with young children! 

Each month I will be sharing some ideas with you about teaching young children.  I hope you will share your ideas as well so that we can have a lively discussion!    

This month I have chosen to write about music in the early childhood classroom. 

I think we would all agree that most young children love music. But why is music so important to children? Here are some of my thoughts on the subject. 

1.  Music has a positive effect on young children’s development!!

New research shows that music has a positive influence on young children’s cognitive skills such as spatial reasoning and memory. Research also shows that providing children with a rich and stimulating environment involving all the senses, including the auditory sense, can support children’s healthy growth and development.

The Nemours Foundation (a non-profit organization founded by philanthropist Alfred DuPont to improve the health of children) notes in a 2008 report that:

Research has shown that children who are actively involved with music (who play it or sing it regularly):

  • do better in reading and math when they start school
  • are better able to focus and control their bodies
  • play better with others and have higher self-esteem

Here  are some ways I have used music in the early childhood classroom.

  1. Use a song to greet each child in the morning during morning meeting as part of attendance.
  2. Use a song or instrumental music during transition times such as clean-up time or snack preparation time.
  3. Play background music during free play or centers time. Be sure the music isn’t too loud or distracting from the children’s activities.
  4. Play quiet lullabies or soft classical music during nap time or rest time.
  5. Use music to teach letters, shapes, numbers or any other concepts in the curriculum.
  6. Sing songs and play instruments as part of the daily routine.
  7. Use music to enhance games and movement activities.
  8. Add music to creative drama and art activities.
  9. Use music to help children learn about other cultures and other lands.
  10. Use music to celebrate special events and holidays.

2. Young children enjoy making music with others!!

Making music with others gives children a wonderful feeling of belonging to the group. Children who might have difficulty joining in activities with others because they are shy, have limited English ability (ELLs or language delayed) or special needs, can freely participate when it comes to a music activity. 

3. Music makes young children happy!!

Children seem to experience much pleasure and joy listening to music, making music and moving to music. Whether they are singing along to a CD, playing a rhythm instrument or skipping to music around the classroom, most children seem to thoroughly enjoy participating in a music activity. How wonderful it is that with very little effort, a teacher can bring such happiness to children each day just by providing the opportunity to do a little something with music. 

I hope you and your students will enjoy making music together! 

Please let me know about ways you have used music in your classroom! 

Looking forward to hearing from you. 

Dr. Vardin

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13 comments ↓

#1 Rae Pica on 01.14.09 at 8:29 pm

<p>Thanks for the posting, Dr. Vardin! As a movement specialist, I’m often frustrated by the fact that we have to justify the inclusion of movement and music in the early childhood curriculum. (The third point you make should be reason enough!) But as long as we keep fighting the good fight, young children will never have to be without movement and music.</p>

#2 Tara on 01.15.09 at 9:11 am

I am planning to write a dissertation on how using music as a therapeutic technique is increasing language production with young autistic children. I use music all the time with the preschool and early intervention populations I work with, and I have found that their ability to attend increases as well as their language output.

#3 Elizabeth Newman on 02.03.09 at 6:09 am

I remember from my own childhood how enriching music, movement and the arts in general were to my experiences in learning and to my understanding of the world. As a actor and filmmaker by profession, these early building blocks were of paramount importance to the subsequent path of my life!

#4 Karen on 02.09.09 at 2:33 am

I feel music is so important in the early childhood classroom. It has the power to relax children if necessary, but also stimulate and motivate them. I use songs to reinforce days of the week and months of the year. I also like to sing a daily weather song to the tune of B-I-N-G-O. There is a great morning ‘meet and greet song’ and letter/sound movement and sing-along-song on Sing Along with Dr. Jean. Dr. Jean has a lot of child-friendly, education-integrated and interactive songs. Happy singing!

#5 Mary Katherine on 04.18.09 at 9:09 pm

I think music is extremely important when it comes to Early Childhood Education. Music is another outlet to stimulate the mind in school. We all know younger children have a lot of energy, and learning movements and dances to songs can help release some of it. Using songs to learn about something helps the students remember it quicker. For example, most children learn the alphabet from a song. There are many songs about different subjects that can be used in the classroom. When I was younger, I remember getting really excited when we did an activity which involved music. Kids seem to really respond to music in the classroom and enjoy it thoroughly.

#6 Patricia on 04.21.09 at 1:56 pm

Isn’t it interesting to see how several of our colleagues remember, to this day, how important music was in their learning experiences when they were young children?
It would be great to see more research on the importance of music in early learning, beyond that of the Mozart effect.
Dr. Vardin

#7 Georgia Richards on 09.07.09 at 5:21 pm

Children are the greatest lovers of music

#8 Patrick on 01.20.10 at 6:13 am

Whatever music does to you, it’s not different from whatever it does to children. So, if you enjoy music and learn from it, let your child have the opportunity to listen to it.

#9 Johanna Linonoka on 08.11.10 at 5:25 am

I need more information on how to use music as a teaching method in the classroom at upper primary as well as at the secondary phase.

#10 Sween on 10.24.10 at 3:15 pm

I have seen from my own experience with my classroom that the children retain better through music.

#11 Paula Midock on 11.16.10 at 1:52 pm

I am looking for a teacher friendly early childhood music curriculum that I, as a music educator, can share with my colleagues. Most that I have found require extensive training for all teachers involved, and our school system is not financially able to support department-wide training.

#12 masimba chifamba on 03.01.11 at 1:20 pm

Music is for enjoyment and children express themselves through music.

#13 sarah on 03.18.11 at 11:06 pm

I am interested in conducting a research assignment on children’s music today and focusing on what is considered children’s music. I have noticed that kids’ music is on the outs somewhat and that kids now like to listen to what’s on the radio and what their parents and siblings listen to. I have also noticed the effect of the media on kids’ choices — they like to listen to the people they see on TV, hear on the radio and, of course, the people they want to be like. Any ideas in regards to this? Thanks!

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