Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Here are ten – thought provoking and grounded – reasons why the Ministry of Education should develop a curriculum underpinned by music.
1. Music is our first language. It calms stressed and anxious systems, and regulates the lower brain. When the body is rhythmically organised, children are able to relax, attend, listen, enjoy and learn.
2. Music is an intuitive language of the emotions. We can use music effectively to match children’s emotional levels to calm or arouse. “Music for the developing brain is a form of play” (Levitin p. 256).
3. Music is an experience enjoyed by the whole brain. It activates memory, thus helping children to see, hear, feel, move and remember, through sensory and emotional music experiences. Musical Play causes the brain to activate the release of the chemicals dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, and endorphins, which are responsible for our sense of happiness.
4. Neuroscience shows that for the brain, information paced by rhythmic pulse (steady beat) and pattern is non-threatening. We can teach many aspects of sequential learning in enjoyable, repetitive, rhythmic, sensory ways that can underpin and support all learning, such as literacy and numeracy.
5. Rhythmic patterning is one of the most important elements in the pacing of spoken language. Rhythmic speech paces the brain’s intake of cognitive information.
6. Music activities that include strong rhythmic and movement components can impact upon adaptive motor planning, sensory organisation, cognitive processes and general physiological pacing.
7. Learning vocabulary in sung format can contribute to more efficient memory of lyrics, poems, and foreign languages, because the brain loves patterns.
8. Music helps adaptive responses to auditory and visual stimuli, and pacing of body movement. It promotes ability to concentrate and stay on task, to accept changing order and routine, and supports both verbal and non verbal communication.
9. Because music is predictable and sequential, it supports sequential learning. When lyrics are used, multiple sequencing takes place, as well as cognition of meaning. Ongoing use of sequential sensory musical stimulus supports the development of neural networks. Music and movement activities abound for developing timing, sequencing skills and spatial reasoning.
10. Musical play helps to set limits and boundaries. It is a natural behaviour modification tool that requests a level of compliance from the listener and participant. It is a social unifier, requiring no specific training in order for it to be experienced and enjoyed in a group. It helps everyone to watch, wait and listen, and move and play in time, thus developing a sense of music community.