Brilliant Tots

The Benefits Of Learning Through Music: Cognition

By January 4, 2021 No Comments

Most children love singing and moving along music. Music not only brings joy to children, but it also benefits children’s cognitive development. Music can also be used to motivate children to engage in learning activities. Children can be encouraged to participate in activities involving different sounds, rhythms and songs so that their body and mind can work together to learn new things effectively.

Cognitive Development

Parents know that reading to their little ones holds many benefits but often overlooked, making music together have even greater benefits. Research has shown that children who are involved in music-making at home (exploring instrument sounds, singing or dancing) improved attention, numeracy, and prosocial skills more than reading together did. Many studies have now documented cognitive improvements in children who receive music lessons, along with demonstrated changes to brain structures. Children who have received music training showed differences in the thickness of the auditory areas in the right versus the left hemisphere, a sign that music training impacts brain structure. Children who engaged in learning to play and read music showed stronger robustness of white matter, a sign of stronger connectivity in the corpus callosum, an area that allows communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. Engagement in music is all about sound awareness and exploration, it strengthens the same areas of the brain associated with reading and language skills. There is also a relationship between musical training and math skills. Music engagement builds spatial reasoning skills, pattern awareness, and counting skills. Active involvement in music provides opportunities to practice many important academic and pre-academic skills.

  • Categorization – An important cognitive skill for young children to develop. The ability to categorize things as the same or different and to understand groupings are important milestones. Music offers many opportunities for categorization- through grouping instruments, identifying sounds that are the same or different, or teaching colours through songs.
  • Children’s songs – include opportunities to work on counting. “10 Little Indians” is a great rhythmic chant that counts down from 1 to 10. “This Old Man” and “Ants Go Marching” pair counting with rhyming words and give children lots of opportunities to add movements and engage in creative play.

Through the use of structure, rhythm, patterns, and sounds of music in a deliberate manner; music can promote success, reinforce skills, and help children reach their potential.

  • Increase attention spans
  • Improve executive functioning
  • Teach academic concepts
  • Teach life skills
  • Develop pre-academic skills such as attending, cause-effect, turn-taking, and following directions


Singing with young children is a meaningful, bonding experience that combines focused attention, repetition, and surprise. Parents in all cultures sing to their infants to soothe and calm them. Music helps children memorise information and it makes repetition less boring. The more you sing the song with your little one, the more they will remember the information in the song.

Music Therapy At Home:

Sing songs that are associated with tasks at home like cleaning up, setting the table, and riding in the car. Allow yourself to be creative and make up your own songs, or use an existing children’s song and change the words. An easy way to start is changing to words to a familiar song, like singing “Mary had a little sock” while getting dressed. Give your child an opportunity to make choices and sing along. Encourage this by pausing at the end of a phrase and having your little one fill in the missing word. Use “hello” and “goodbye” songs to practise greetings. Songs can be fun and useful for practising comprehension.

Playing Musical Instruments

Quality learning and maximum participation happen when children experience the joy of play. Exploring sounds and motor skills using musical instruments is a fun and interactive way to learn. Having a variety of instruments around the house is great, but not necessary. 

Music Therapy At Home:

Children can explore sounds on common household objects like pots and pans, containers, and safe wooden or metal objects. If you would like your little one to remember a certain vocabulary, you can try to put your own words to a catchy tune while having your little one drum to a simple beat. Simple musical instruments, such as drums, rhythm sticks and tambourines are good for playing at home. At the beginning stage, you can practise imitation and turn-taking skills using the instruments with your child. For example, you can play one beat on the drum and say “one”, then pass the drum to your child to play the same beat. To step up, you may play more than one beat, change the speed or volume of the beating to see your child’ response. Use different instruments to develop their awareness of sequencing. For example, first hit the tambourine, then tap the sticks and last hit the drum. Making handmade instruments is a good way to learn where sounds come from. It easy and fun to get your kids to create their own musical instruments at home.

DIY Drum

  • Step1 – Glue construction paper around the coffee tin: Start by removing the lid and label from the coffee tin. Use the label as a guide to cut a piece of construction paper to fit the can. Glue the construction paper onto the coffee tin using craft glue. Draw a rectangle on the construction paper that is the same width and as long as the piece of paper is. You can cut off any overlap.
  • Step 2 – Attach a piece of fabric to the top of the coffee tin: Use a hot glue gun to glue a square of fabric to the top of the coffee tin. Trim the excess fabric leaving about one to two inches of extra fabric past the glue. The square of fabric should be about double the size of the top of the tin. 
  • Step 3 – Replace the lid: Put the lid to the coffee tin back on to secure the fabric in place and create a solid surface for your little one to drum on. You can hide the edge of the lid by glueing on a ribbon over it.
  • Step 4 – Decorate the drum: Have your little one decorate the drum to their desire!
  • Step 5 – Find sticks to drum with: Find lightweight wooden sticks to use as drumsticks – Wooden dowels, chopsticks, or unsharpened pencils.
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