When we listen to or play music, we know that it makes us feel good. Hearing the beat of your favorite song can put a smile on your face if you’re having a bad day or take you back to a favorite memory. 

While music can put children in a good mood as well, it can also do some pretty cool things for their brains and their development. Many people don’t realize that music is not only good for the soul but also the mind. Let’s take a look at the effect music has on children’s brains.

Music and Brain Development

Research has shown that music training before the age of seven can change the brain’s structure and function. One study uncovered that the white matter in the corpus callosum can increase, which results in more brain connectivity. 

Early music training can also increase the gray matter in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that’s in charge of sensory and motor skills. The improved coordination can also help to control emotions. This can help to prevent kids from overreacting and help them handle frustration better. Other findings discovered that musical training can increase the blood flow in the left side of the brain which can help them process language better.

There is also research to indicate that music training can help children’s auditory systems mature faster compared with children who don’t have music training. This could accelerate their development of language and reading, as well as in other areas.

Music and Memory

Music also does some cool things when it comes to children’s memory functions. Research from the Institute for Music and the Mind at McMaster University in Ontario indicates that musical training can modify the brain’s auditory cortex. Laurel Trainor, director of the Institute, suggests that since playing music with others requires a lot of attention and memory, it may lead to an even greater effect on memory.

Music and Spatial Reasoning

Engaging young children in music classes can help with their spatial and temporal reasoning skills.  Research by psychologist Dr. Frances Rauscher and neuroscientist Gordon Shaw discovered that children who took music lessons did better on those types of tasks compared with kids who took computer lessons. Classical music has been found to be especially helpful when it comes to spatial reasoning in children. This may be because classical music is more mathematical and more complex than other types of music.

Besides listening to music, learning to play music can also have an impact on spatial reasoning. Researchers found that children who took piano lessons for six months improved their ability to finish puzzles and do other spatial tasks by as much as 30%. Many believe that musical instructions make new pathways in the brain that help with these types of tasks.

Music and IQ

The impact music can have on a child’s IQ is important as well. In a 2006 study published in the  Journal of Educational Psychology, researchers found that music lessons seemed to improve a child’s IQ and academic performance. They also uncovered that the longer the children study music, the more of a positive effect it has on them. So keep learning that music!

Music and Social Development

Music can also have an impact on social development in children. A study from the Florida International University’s Community Based Research Institute found that school music groups have a positive impact on the “5 C’s of social development”. These are competence, confidence, caring, character, and connection. After studying children learning music in an orchestra setting, they found that these children all showed an increase in all of the 5 C’s of social development.

Music and Multisensory Skills

Music can also impact multisensory skills because it requires children to process sights, sounds, and touch simultaneously. This can help children multitask when they are faced with different sounds and images at the same time. Adults can certainly use these skills too!

Strengthening the Brain’s Executive Functions

A 2014 study found that learning a musical instrument improves and strengthens the brain’s executive functions. The brain’s executive functions cover things like problem-solving, controlling behavior, and making good choices. These are all skills that can help kids as they grow up.

Music and Babies

You don’t have to wait until kids get older to expose them to music so they can reap the benefits. Music can have a positive impact on babies too. A study at McMaster University found that babies who were part of an interactive music class had better communication skills and smiled more! Many people believe that exposing babies to some form of music at a young age leads to happier babies. 

There’s also research that shows that after babies listen to music, their auditory and prefrontal cortexes look different. These are the parts of the brain in charge of processing music and speech. Let the music play!

Music at Rock and Roll Daycare

At our Rock and Roll Daycare location in East Cambridge, we love exposing kids to music at a young age so that they can get all of these brain boosts! Our teachers and caregivers bring the gift of music every day with fun singalongs, instrument playing, listening games, and more.

From our smallest babies to our busy six-year-olds, kids at the East Cambridge location are getting the gift of music every day. While we’re busy bringing music into children’s lives at our center, we hope you’re continuing the fun at home. Comment below and let us know how music is playing a role in your children’s lives at home.

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