Joint music making leads to more helping behaviour in 18-month olds

It may seem strange to think of a childcare centre that does not use music in some way. This could be passive background music or a song to sing and move along to on Youtube. We know about the many cognitive skills that interaction with music can create for your children, but why do we have music in the first place?

In this study, the researchers summarise the probable reason why humans have music in their lives (we have removed the in-text citations, but if you want to know more we can help you access the full paper).

“Music-making is an inherently social activity. It has always been used in participatory activities such as rituals and ceremonies: playing an instrument, singing, and dancing used to be part of everyday life. It was originally ‘an engaging, multisensory, social activity’ and its evolutionary purpose might have been to foster cooperation, group cohesion and prosocial commitment.”

As a class full of almost toddlers, experiencing social connections and cohesion through music just looks like fun, but based on the description above, it helps every child become a social being, and as it turns out, a social being who wants to help others.

In this study, the researchers measured if 18-month-old children were more likely to exhibit helping behaviours if they did joint music-making, passive music listening or non-music (reading a book) just before the test.

The final sentence of their abstract says it all, “We found that joint music-making led to more helping behaviour than listening to music or joint book reading, indicating that the prosocial effect of joint music-making arises even in 18-month-olds.”

Read more here

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