The Importance of Music and Movements Towards Early Childhood Development

Issue :The Importance of Music and Movement and How Much it Contributes to the Early Childhood Development This is a writing on the issue of the importance of music and how it contributes towards the early childhood development. Reading five and more articles and journals on this issue, I have to agree that music and movements contributes to the child’s total development: psychomotor, perceptual, affective, cognitive, social, cultural and aesthetic.

According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner (1983), music intelligence is equal in importance to logical – mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, bodily – kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence. Making music is as much a basic life skill as walking or talking. Peery and Peery (1987) suggest that it is desirable for children to be exposed to, trained in, and enculturated with music for its own sake.

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That is, it is a birthright for all people to be able to sing in tune and march to a beat (Levinowitz and Guilmartin, 1989, 1992, 1996). To ensure a comprehensive learning experience, music must be included in early childhood. We generally think of music as something created by humans for entertainment purposes. Without knowingly, music can make us smarter. Developing a child’s musical ability may actually improve her/his ability to learn and be successful at other disciplines, such as language, math and science.

The latest neurological research on brain development and its relationship to music are beginning to find that the relationship on brain development to music education reveals that training in music has a positive effect. Musical experiences are displayed in the brain as multimodal, involving auditory, visual, cognitive, effective, and motor systems. Training children in music at an early age exercises higher brain functions, including complex reasoning tasks.

Wilfried Gruhn in his journal , Children need music says that every human being is born with a certain level of musical potential and most powerfully developed during early childhood. Musical learning already starts at a pre-natal stage. As soon as the hearing apparatus starts to function(around the third trimester of pregnancy), the unborn child awakens to a variety of sounds both from the womb and the external environment ( Abrams et al. , 1998). Shortly following birth, neonates can identify sounds that are meaningful such as the maternal voice(DeCasper & Fifer, 1980).

The research conducted by Maurice Ravel ( 1875-1937) says that parents and caretakers do not need to limit their infants to simple or stereotyped ‘ baby music”. They should select music that they deem appropriate, be it simple or complex, always attuned to their child’s reaction and to loudness level. Researches think the complexity of classical music is what primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly. So listening to classical music may have different effects on the brain than listening to other types of music.

This doesn’t mean that other types of music aren’t good. Listening to any kind of music helps build music-related pathways in the brain. Adults should engage in meaningful and enjoyable musical activities with their infants. Wilfried in his journal supports that children explore time and space by body weigh and flow of movement, where else adults count and measure. Therefore, to him it is obvious and reasonable that children needs music as a means of rhythmic repetition and structured movements and they respond to music with great sensitivity. Musical aptitude research says, musical potential is at the highest degree right after birth. Without any informal environmental stimulation, a child’s musical potential will decrease and finally disappear. Music education plays its particular role in children’s education. It fulfills an ethical doctrine to develop and consolidate a given potential to the best possible extent. Now the discussion is, how we adults( teacher, parents or caretakers) going to use multiple musical and physical strategies in addressing all developmental domains while providing meaningful learning in children.

Now the question is , how adults( teachers or parents) can use music and movements more effectively in children’s learning, thus children’s development in all domains. Children process information in different ways. The three types of learning styles are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Music can aid in the use of using the three learning styles. Music alone is auditory, music along with pictures and words is visual, and music combined with motions or dance is kinesthetic . In the journal article, Music and Physical Play by two U.

S early childhood teacher educators and a Kenya-born U. S early childhood teachers, have compiled and presented some ideas of music and physical play with the valuable strategies used by the Kenya teachers. They have presented these strategies through vignettes that capture Kenya early childhood teaching practices that is also meaning to teachers outside Kenya. I have picked some activities from the ideas presented and figure out how we adults can incoorperate that in our preschool music teachings suitable to our Malaysian’s culture.

Psychomotor Development As children participate in music, movement and dance, it contributes to their psychomotor development. We can notice this in babies who have not yet learned to crawl. In response to lively music, babies will raise their arms and legs up off the floor and make rapid swimming motion. While the preschoolars , to go along with a song during creative movements of actions songs, they learn to coordinate their small muscles of their hands or arms, or fine motor skills.

To go along in the mission of encouraging music in children, teachers must be creative enough to plan activities that will attract the children to participate and enjoy. Action songs like; You Put Your Right Hands In, Making Melodies In My Heart, I’m a Little Teapot, Humpty Dumpty, Saya Seekor Gajah, P. Ramlee songs like, Tanya Sama Pokok, Nenek Si Bongkok Tiga and etc is way to encourage children to involve actively in musical games and play, besides developing children’s motor skills, hand-eye coordination as well as coordination of body parts.

Besides songs and rhymes, teachers can also use fast or slow rhythmic music tunes and encourage the kinesthetic learners, who find it easier to learn through actions than via words alone. To make the session more interesting, teacher can think of some props like, scarf, pong-pong, hula hoop, musical instruments, and so on. While singing and teaching songs in the playground, teachers are encouraged to model loud and joyful singing and dancing with the children. Failure to develop competence in fundamental skills of movement may result in a poor body image(Green, 2001).

Music in Language Development. Music can definitely foster the language development in children. First of all in a multi-cultural society like Malaysia, we are rich with multi languages and norms. Teacher must help the children to come to sense that there are other ethnics, languages and culturals around them and that everyone children’s language is valued. Teacher can help the children feel included by learning and teaching a few words in each child’s language. Along the way teacher can also deliberately modify the songs by adding various languages.

When talking about movements, it reminds me of this Austria scientist Rudolf Stiener and his Waldrof Approach. He introduces Eurythmy, Steiner’s art of movement, which makes speech and music visible through action and gestures and enables children to develop a sense of harmony. According to Steiner, every sound- speech or music- can be interpreted through gestures and body movements; for example, in learning the letter “o” , children from the letter with their arms while saying the sound for “o”. Its an integrity of music , art and movements. Music to foster logico-mathematical skills.

Musical intelligence involves children’s ability to process mentally tonal aspects of rhythm and melody. Children learn to focus on a task, sequence materials, and link words with actions. There are cognitive connections between learning music and learning to do mathematical or learning to read, since all these tasks depend on mastering a language. The song is an example of how all adults, worldwide help children count and remember numbers. When children are exposed to steady rhythms such as the rhythms of a song, their awareness increases as they learn such maths skills as patterning, Epstein( 2007).

Finger play like, e. g; One little finger, 5 little monkeys, 10 green bottles, Once I caught a fish alive 5 little ducks, teachers children the concept of one to one correspondence. Later during the higher level of maths learning like addition and subtraction, teacher can help children understand the concepts better by relating to they finger play/ counting songs that they have learnt. Teachers can also introduce songs that change tempo, fast or slow to help children understand time. When we have children move, dance and use gestures, we help them learn about spatial concepts.

These music and movements experiences support children in developing mathematical foundations. Music in emotional and social development. Many musical games teachers children about friends and partners, thus giving children opportunities to practice important social skills. For and example the song, London bridge is falling down that teacher and children played requires waiting, being patient and gentle teaching or hand holding. Teacher can also use music to teach children what good means.

Children should know the meaning of being responsibility, helping at home, being obedient at school, caring for siblings, respecting adults and many more. Teacher can introduces songs like, Quey Sarah Sarah, See a pin and pick it up and etc. Bernstein(1990) says that musical abilities is developed in a relationship, in a succession of a relationships- musical self in relation to musical selves. Music can teach personal safety. Music can also help to teach children about keeping themselves safe in a non-threatening ways. When we go walking with children, we can remind them that staying together keeps everybody safe.

Songs like , 5 little ducks teachers children about getting lost if not staying in group. 5 little monkeys teachers children about the simple hazards of jumping on the bed. Teacher can also create their own chants about crossing the street, getting in to the bus or using the playground apparatus or whatever else is a safety issue for the children. Katheleen Duck Ludowise in her article says that not every child( or teaches) excels in singing. “out of tune” singers are not blessed with the natural singing ability of their peers.

Such children often feel left out of the music period and withdraw from active participation. Movement to music gives children an alternate musical path to explore, one in which they can be achievers. Although specific movements are suggested in each activity, the teacher should avoid dictating a single movement as the only correct way to move. A variety of movements should be encouraged and explored. She suggest activities with steady beat, tempo activities( fast, slow and tempos that gradually get faster or slower. )and meter activities( stronger beats occur on the steady beat- Indian Drum).

Parents, care givers, and teachers can do a great deal to provide the necessary stimulation through music experiences to nurture the young child’s music abilities. Teachers and researchers have gleaned information from their professional experience suggesting that early childhood development in general and successful educational programs in particular can be attributed to the partnership between the young child and his or her significant others. Similarly, it seems that this philosophy could be applied practically to early childhood music education.

Forming collaborations among the adults who care for our nation’s youngest children and understanding the learning processes specific to early child-hood will foster music abilities and contribute significantly to the overall growth and development of the child. There are music and movement activities suitable for every child, regardless of age, talent, or disability. When teachers make music, movement, and dance an integral part of the school day, children’s development in all areas-cognitive, physical, emotional and social is supported and enriched. Work cited 1.

Creative Thinking and Arts Based Learning; Joan Packer Isenberg, Mary Renck Jalongo,5th Edition. 2. Early Childhood Education Today, George S. Morrison, 11th Eleven. 3. Journal article; Music and Physical Play, by Amy Freshwater, Elizabeth Sherwood, Esther Mougua. 4. International Journal of Music Education, children need music, Wilfried Grunh, University of Music Freiburg. 5. International Journal of Music Education, Music Cognition in early infancy, Beatriz Ilari, Linda Polka. 6. Journal article, Movement to music, Kathleen Duck Ludowise. 7. www. whywaldrofworks. org 8. Approaches to Early Childhood Education, 4th edition, James E. Johnson.

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