To get control of our inhibitory control, preschoolers might first need to get a hold of the beat!
This study looked at the different impacts of a rhythm based music program and a melody based music program on different aspects of the executive function of preschoolers. Anyone who has spent time with a preschooler would know that their executive functions – to maintain control of their behaviour, to not lash out, to have empathy for others, just to name a few skills – is not that great.
However, several studies have now found that music learning for preschoolers can have a significant positive impact on a preschoolers executive function development. This is of great interest to educators and parents, because often these control issues can also delay learning and make forming and keeping friendships difficult.
This study found that “rhythm-based music training specifically enhances inhibition (self-control) in preschoolers and might affect other EFs (executive functions), such as set-shifting (being able to see shapes and ideas differently) and visuospatial working memory (remembering something you have seen). ” The study does not rule out melody based music programs, or say that children should only do rhythm. It would be interesting to have a third group where these two musical concepts where taught together (as most music programs would do) and see what the findings were for executive functions.