Music learning in early childhood increases pre-reading skills and vocabulary 🧠🎶📖
The results of this study of 90 3-6 years olds found that early childhood music training can lead to associated improvements in both musical skills and language skills, thus strengthening the evidence for a developmental link between these two abilities. The study also found that “singing ability was correlated with language skills”. These are fantastic findings and they build on a rapidly growing group of studies that are identifying the effectiveness of music as a developmental tool in early childhood, not just for language but for many other skills.
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These kinds of statements bring into question the reason why young children don’t just deserve, but need music education. Is it for musical skills or non-musical skills? We don’t believe it is an either/or argument – it is both. We looked into the full text of this study and found some fantastic detail about the music learning experiences themselves, as well as the philosophy behind them. Here is an excerpt, the final line really sums it all up.
“All children in this study participated in group music education classes, held at The Royal Conservatory’s downtown Toronto facility. These classes lasted eight months (from September until May), with normal breaks for holidays; there were a total of 28 classes. Individual attendance records were not kept by the teachers, but other records indicate that attendance tended to be high, near 75%, with the majority of those who did not attend regularly dropping out altogether. These classes used the Smart Start curriculum, a new curriculum developed in-house. This curriculum, applicable for children ages 0–6, is intended to incorporate current understandings of cognitive psychology into the activity design. Each activity was constructed by subject-matter specialists in music or other arts and reviewed and edited by the Royal Conservatory’s early childhood music specialist (Catherine West). Curriculum activities were designed to teach specific musical skill while incorporating the use of one or more cognitive domains, which included attention, memory, perception, and cognitive flexibility. Subsequent to this, each activity was reviewed by a trained cognitive neuroscientist (the author), in order to ensure that it did in fact target the appropriate cognitive domain in an (age-appropriately) challenging way. The purpose of this curriculum is to ensure that the classes maximize students’ engagement and current abilities. Importantly, lessons were not designed to teach the children specific cognitive skills, but rather to engage these skills through music; the primary goal of each class remained effective music training.”
Hutchins, S. (2018). Early Childhood Music Training and Associated Improvements in Music and Language Abilities. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 35(5), 579-593.