What improves test scores, leads to better behavior, and can even raise IQ scores? Music effects on child development are profound! Keep reading to learn how music affects the brain in children and teens and how to best utilize its positive power!
What if I told you there was one thing that could improve your kid’s test scores, create better behavior and sleep habits, and possibly even boost their IQ?
You might think I was exaggerating — that almost sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?
Believe it or not, extensive research shows that MUSIC can do all of these things…and more!
Music is for more than entertainment; music has a powerful impact on early child development, behavior and cognitive abilities!
How Music Affects the Brain in Kids and Teens
The following are some of the music effects on child development that stood out to me. Some of these might be expected, but some of the ways music affects the brain are surprisingly profound!
1. Music Boosts Brain Development
The connection between music and brain development in early childhood cannot be overstated. This is powerful, powerful stuff!
A two-year study by The Brain and Creativity Institute at USC found an “increase in neuroplasticity” in the brains of kids with regular exposure to music and music education. These children also showed accelerated development of their auditory systems, which could potentially “accelerate their development of language and reading, as well as other abilities.”
To put it simply, music builds brains!
2. More Music Education = Higher Test Scores
Music education or learning to play an instrument can help kids in do better in other academic areas too!
- A 10-year UCLA study of 25,000 children revealed that musical training led to higher standardized test scores and increased aptitude in reading and language arts.
- A 2004 study at the University of Toronto at Mississauga found that weekly piano or voice training boosted the IQs of students.
- The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) purports that children and teens with musical training are able to better retain information, increase math abilities, and even score higher on their SATs.
The above are just a few examples, but study after study confirms that incorporating more musical education leads to better academic performance. And it may literally help make kids smarter! That is truly incredible when you think about it!
3. Positive Music Promotes Better Behavior
When considering how music affects early childhood development, better grades and test scores are awesome tangible benefits. However, music effects on child development go much further than simple numerical metrics.
Award-winning author and musician Ann Purcell explains, “there is a saying in India, ‘what you see you become” [and] I think we can apply this to music, ‘what we hear we become.’
Children pick up what is in their environment. They often copy their parents. If there is music with positive, meaningful messages, children are bound to absorb the meanings of the lyrics into their consciousness.”
TIP: As Purcell notes, it is important to stick to positive tunes to see the optimum impact of music and its influence on behavior.
Purcell provides examples of music with positive messages on her album, You’re a Hero:
4. Lullabies Lead to Peaceful Sleep
Soothing songs and lullabies are a useful tool for parents to help their children fall asleep. Yes, lullabies really do work!
Furthermore, if the last thing children hear before drifting into sleep is a positive message, it could help bring good dreams and restful sleep.
5. Music Improves Mood
Both of our older girls have a school morning playlist that we listen to in the school car ride line. Hearing their favorite songs helps them wake up, feel alert, and get pumped for the day.
How to Harness the Power of Music at Home
The following are simple, do-able ways to incorporate music into daily life, therefore reaping the brain-building benefits:
- Create family playlists for different occasions, such as a morning playlist to help kids wake up energized. Parents are the number one role model for kids, so we can provide positive examples of music selections.
- Use music as a conversation-starter. Music is like art and it can be a fun activity to discuss what a particular song means to each of us.
- Enroll your child in some form of music education, whether its voice classes or violin lessons. With many schools reducing or even cutting out music education altogether, we parents have to take this into our own hands. Even if a child is too young for formal classes, they can still make their own beats with homemade “instruments.” Our daughter loved playing her “drums,” which were gift boxes that we saved:
One Final Thing…
Just as positive music has a positive effect on brain development and behavior, negative music can have the opposite result. Music and music videos containing violence, sexual messages, and sexual stereotypes might produce unwanted changes in behaviors and attitudes of young listeners.
Keep an ear out for what your kids are listening to, especially older kids and teens. Even “edited” and “radio friendly” songs contain themes that are definitely not kid-appropriate.
Music is an amazing tool for helping kids live better, learn faster, and just be happier in general. So when your kids ask to listen to the same songs over and over (mine aren’t the only ones that do that right?) — just remember, they are building their brainpower!
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Disclosure: This piece is modified from a sponsored guest post by musician Ann Purcell.