Children’s brain development and music: a winning combination featured in today’s Telegraph
Thursday, 20 February, 2014 02:01
There’s a great, wonderful, comprehensive article in today’s Telegraph titled ‘Can music make your child cleverer?’
Disclaimer: I am interviewed in it regarding my book The Music Miracle and the studies on music and children’s brain development. The article also features some tips (on how to engage musically with your child) from The Grown-Up’s Guide of the Moosicology Package.
Still, I genuinely think it’s a fabulous read, as the writer has done a great bit of research to make one fact-packed and nicely written article! Furthermore, the benefits of music for children clearly need this kind of national exposure: us parents need to be more informed on how crucial music is for babies and children. I very nearly missed this opportunity myself with my son six years ago – not wanting to be a ‘pushy parent’, or ‘living my music dreams through my son’, I hesitated in introducing my peculiar obsession with music to him – so it was just as well I came across one study when he was just a few months old (in the wonderful parenting book What Every Parent Needs to Know by Margot Sunderland) – and when I started to look for more information, a whole new world opened up in scientific journals; a wealth of information on how music benefits the brain development of children.
Without further ado, here’s a snippet of the article, which you can read in full at The Telegraph site:
“Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay, 30, Finnish author of The Music Miracle, believes that she has found the key to enhancing a child’s development. “In Finland, most children go to a music playschool until the age of seven,” she says. “They teach the children music in a very child-centred way. The benefits of this are so amazing that when I moved to Britain, I wanted to bring them to British children.”
According to the PISA international league tables, Finnish children are 14 places above Britain in maths, sixth in the world in reading, and fifth in science. The country has become something of a cause celebre among educational experts, who have long searched for the secret of this success.
Henriksson-Macaulay’s six-year-old son, Toivo, has been having piano lessons since he was four. She also has music sessions with him for half-an-hour a week, and for Christmas she gave him a drum kit. “He is exposed to music of all different types,” she says.
In her book, she concludes that musical practice can produce nothing short of a “a full-scale brain upgrade”. She has also developed a system of music tuition called Moosicology, which is intended to be used by parents to maximise the benefits to their child’s development.
According to a collation of peer-reviewed studies quoted in the book, benefits of early engagement with music include improved performance in mathematics and languages; higher levels of IQ; better emotional fluency; greater self-esteem; a more powerful memory; and physical health and fitness.
Such elaborate claims might sound far-fetched, especially as they are made by a non-scientist. But the book has been verified by a number of leading academics at the Institute of Education and elsewhere.
For babies up to the age of one, Henriksson-Macaulay says, it is best to play them a range of music, including major and minor keys, and different time signatures, rhythms and scales. “In Britain, children’s songs are usually in 4/4 time, and in the major key,” she explains. “That’s a bit like speaking to kids only in verbs. For the full benefits, children need a variety of music.”
She suggests singing and clapping games for children under the age of four, and for those aged between five and seven, she recommends introducing instruments.
“The most dramatic benefits happen before the age of seven or eight,” she says. “But it is important not to create a hothouse environment, or there will be a connection between music and stress.” ”
Click here to read the full article – including what Alex James from Blur and Susan Hallam from the Institute of Education have to say about the meaning of music for child development!