A-Z List

Uses of Music in Early Childhood Development

Goals and Methodologies

How music is important in early childhood development, along with ways in which music is and can be used in a classroom for important learning and social development in children.

Compiled Brad Kennedy & Jennifer Durst
December 1999

Ideas of how music can be incorporated into a child's life
and the effects that it can have on them:

  1. Music can be used in games like "duck duck grey duck" or "duck duck goose" and "London bridge is falling down" to involve children in social games. Social and group skills may be developed through the interaction of many children in one activity.

  2. Teaching children music starting at a very young age, incorporating listening, recognition, repetition, and performance skills will accelerate a child's mental capacities, and benefit the entire individual. (See work done by Suzuki Shinichi and Tim Cornwell.)

  3. Reading music: Music can be written in a number of different ways to help a child develop specific skills. Reading music in letter or number patterns, such as tablature, can improve children's number and letter usage. Also, reading music in color would help a child's color recognition. Regular staff reading can help a child develop spatial relations.

  4. Play music to a child in the womb. Studies have found that at later stages of development babies in the womb can differentiate pitches and tempo changes. Music listening has been shown to result in positive effects on development.

  5. Analyze songs with children to develop a means for expression. Songs with or without words can be analyzed in relation to feelings, thoughts, situations, actions, events, etc. in order to develop expressive skills and creativity. Goal areas for using music with young children include motor, cognitive, language and social/emotional/spiritual development.

Some activities with music for young children:

  1. Use intense rhythmic music to help improve the child’s capacity to attain and sustain focus. It is often used with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder which usually occurs in children. (Idea from Jump Start web site.)
  2. Children already have the instinct to make music. Examples of this are with instinct of banging pots, pans, boxes, furniture, toys, etc. Making music can be very cheap because most people have these items around their home. Use them for rhythm (tap out different beats) or listen to the different pitch the items make. (See Live and Learn internet web site.)
  3. Listening to music and then repeating what is heard helps with memory and attention skills.
  4. Note reading: watching or listening to the up and down motion of a pitch helps with observational skills, listening skills, and attention skills.
  5. Combine music with fun. Play musical games like "Oh do you know the muffin man" or "Where is thumbkin" to interest a child in music.
  6. Teach the child a clapping song games like "Have you ever, ever, ever" or "Miss Mary Mac" to have fun with singing and rhythms.

Problems and Goals

  • A child is not able to concentrate.
    • Child may learn concentration skills by listening to music while concentrating on a particular part of the piece.

  • A child may have trouble identifying numbers.
    • An existing or composed song may be used to help a student practice the identification of numbers.

  • A child may have trouble identifying letters.
    • A song could be used to help a student remember the letters.

  • A child may have trouble recognizing colors.
    • A song could be used to help a student remember what the colors were, and give some examples of what some things are that color.

  • A child may have trouble memorizing a list for school.
    • A song could be developed that would help the student remember what is on the list