The Influence of Music on the Development of the Child

Music is an art people need since through music and in music we create our world of experience and the emotions which enrich our lives. 

Music enhances sensitivity, develops imagination, teaches independent thinking and satisfies the need to express oneself.

Music is amongst the most sophisticated of art forms.

Participating actively in music develops a whole series of features that could not be developed through any other activity.
Today, it is no longer necessary to convince anyone that music promotes the child’s emotional well-being and personality.
Plato, centuries ago, writing in his ''Republic,'' debated the aesthetic significance of music which, as with no other type of art, is able to invoke powerful feelings..
Similar views were expressed by another ancient philosopher, namely Aristotle, in his “Poetics”.
Almost all theoretical considerations on musical compositions and the methods of their interpretation stress the meaning of music as an irreplaceable medium in the process of communicating feelings and emotions.

For the above reasons, music plays an important role in the child’s development and continues into adulthood.
Professor Alfred Tomatis – a French audiologist - has been working and using auditory stimulation with children who were exhibiting speech and communication disorders.

His methodical studies led to the discovery of the phenomenon which was later dubbed the “Mozart Effect.”
He showed that the ear, as an organ, is not only for hearing and listening but also:

  • is an instrument of balance,
  • controls correct body posture,
  • controls spatial orientation,
  • controls speech, tongue and voice,

is an organ which activates the cerebral cortex, preparing it for the conscious reception of stimuli from the environment.
In the helix, on the hair extensions of the auditory cells within the Organ of Corti, sound transforms into electric impulses.
Most sensory cells react to high frequencies of over 24, 000; a few hundred react to medium frequencies while only a few dozen react to low sounds. This indicates that the higher frequencies stimulate a response in the nerve impulses than do the lower frequencies. Hence, Tomatis described these higher frequencies as 'dynamic' in activating the brain whereas the lower frequencies have the opposite effect.
These latter frequencies do not provide adequate energetic stimulation and lead to a state of exhaustion.
This phenomenon is stronger when sounds are accompanied by movement such as dancing to rock music or rap.
Tomatis noticed that this dynamic activation of the cerebral cortex with high frequency sound:

  • improves concentration,
  • increases creativity,
  • facilitates memory,

increases motivation and the organisational ability of everyday chores,
normalises muscle tension which, in turn, influences correct body posture.
Studies of the music of a number of composers show that the highest frequencies, such as the music of Mozart, give our brain extra energy by activating the brain's 'beta' waves. It also has some exceptional properties which help co-ordinate the work of the heart with the brain.
This results in a feeling of inner cohesion and an empathy with the “here and now” in agreement with the inner rhythm which is important for effective learning.
A lot of hyperactive children have to be “on the move” all the time. By activating their acoustic ducts, i.e. the vestibular system, they are looking for ways to “charge the brain”. Appropriately selected musical stimulation and physical exercises can be very helpful for these children as such exercises help to achieve better concentration during learning.

Based on extensive research, it has been proved that the application of music can help in curing some disorders such as:

  • hearing disorders,
  • dyslexia,
  • attention deficit disorder,
  • autism.

Music facilitates stress reduction caused by illness and can also reduce pain. Increasingly, therapy with music is applied to cure such ailments as migraine, neurosis, depression and even addiction. The therapeutic influence of music and its soothing and compensatory influence is used when working with children with deficiencies in hearing and speech or in their mental or physical development. W. Sacher wrote at length on the above subject and drew our attention to the fact that the therapeutic resources of educational and musical activities are very varied:

  • music teaches concentration on sounds improving the quality of the child’s communication with his or her environment;
  • vocal exercises during singing can be a major factor in removing speech and pronunciation disorders in children;
  • the emotional side of the child’s contact with music often leads to self-expression in the performance of music and supports stabilisation of correct mental development;
  • movement to music is a pleasant way to exercise for children since physical exercise is indispensable for the rehabilitation of any disorder of the organs of motion.

Music plays a very important role in the formation of the child’s personality, especially in the development of his or her cognitive and emotional spheres. Harmony between the different perceptions, such as. language, space, kinaesthesia, mathematical and interpersonal perceptions as well as spiritual intelligence, is the basis for normal functioning.

Studies have shown that music is the perfect tool to comprehensively stimulate the child’s development. Besides stimulation of the various types of intelligence, music connects the two hemispheres of the brain and moves them into a state of balance. Scientists have discovered that a certain type of music influences the brain and memory, releases stress and helps with concentration while opening up the sub-conscious. They noticed that Baroque largos or andantes in the rhythm of 60 beats per minute help to speed up learning. Peaceful tones lower blood pressure, decrease the number of heart beats per minute and assist the heart to return to its normal rhythm. The level of stress decreases, the immune system is stimulated and the brain waves also change.

Baroque music synchronises mind and body.

A relaxed body and a stimulated brain are the ideal state for optimum learning capacity. Baroque composers most often used string instruments such as the violin, the harp, the guitar, and the mandolin, that is to say, musical instruments with naturally high frequencies (5 - 8 thousand Hertz).
Sounds of such high frequency “charge the brain's batteries”.
Sounds with lower frequencies such as traffic noise, airfield or construction field noise exhaust the brain. Slow music with high frequencies supplies energy to the brain and activates both brain and memory, eliminating the feeling of tiredness and thus hastens the learning processes, positively influencing as it does so, the contact between consciousness and the sub- conscious.
Psychologists pose the question as to whether long-term, active contact with music may cause an increase in cognitive functions including memory processes in spheres other than music.

A series of experiments in which music lessons were introduced into the curricula of kindergartens were carried out. The aim was to verify whether children’s cognitive achievements changed under the influence of music. One of the questions was whether those children learning to play a keyboard for 8 months would get better results in various cognitive tasks. It transpired that those children who learned to play music, when compared to those children in a control group, achieved significantly higher results in time and spatial tasks. Similar studies were carried out in 2000.
These showed that children in the 4-6 year age group who had music lessons for 30 weeks demonstrated appreciably improved results in tests to measure memory.
The data collected so far makes it possible to formulate the conclusion that early musical training may enhance cognitive achievements in various disciplines, including those related to memory.
Studies have shown that the above a

chievements remain even after musical training has been terminated. (Czerniawska, 2005).
A child gifted with a “musical ear” -indicating that he or she possesses a greater efficiency when analysing what is being listened to- will not develop his or her abilities in unfavourable surroundings. On the other hand, a person devoid of any musical abilities, will not develop musical talents despite the fact that he or she might learn music and is interested in it.

Children and adolescents normally feel a need to play musical instruments.
This is also true of their parents who often want their children to learn to play an instrument and look upon it as being a part of so-called “good upbringing” since increasingly, parents understand the importance of music in the general upbringing of a child.

The formation of musical interests in a child depends to a decisive degree on his or her home environment and whether there is an active engagement in music in the child’s immediate surroundings, such as the playing of musical instruments, singing in a choir or attending musical concerts.
If such favourable conditions are missing at home and then also at school, this will result in an indifferent approach to music.

A natural love of music in a child and the fact that music surrounds him or her every day, is sufficient basis upon which to seek new views on the contacts between child and music and for new pedagogical activities to arise borne out of such views.

Prepared by: Elżbieta Pasteczka
Literature:
Borowiecka R.,Uczę się z Mozartem (I learn with Mozart), Warszawa 2004, Campbell D.G., The Mozart Effect for Children, New York.2004, Czerniawska E., Memory – usual and unusual phenomena, Warszawa 2005, Goddard S., Reflexes, learning and behaviour, Warszawa 2005, Hannaford C., The Child’s Heart, Warszawa. 2004, Maduale P., Audio – psycho-phonology for singers and musicians, Lublin 1995, Tomatis A., The Ear and Singing, Lublin 1995 

 The Influence of Music on the Development of the Child
Music is an art people need since through music and in music we create our world of experience and the emotions which enrich our lives. 
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