Inside: Do you know that playing a musical instrument is the only thing we do that exercises the entire brain at once? Here are 6 music programs that will build your brain and will improve learning in all children. If you’re looking to strengthen the auditory, visual and motor cortices of the brain…here’s what you need to do.
Music Programs that Will Build Your Brain
If you are looking for music programs that will build your brain consider taking music lessons. Nothing beats music lessons for strengthening your child’s brain while helping them retain information learned in school.
As stated in previous blogs, music is the only activity we do that exercises the entire brain—left, right, front, back portions—simultaneously. Learning a musical instrument gives the brain a major aerobic workout. Let’s talk about various music programs to enroll your child in that will help and support this process.
Music Programs that Will Build Your Brain
There are music lessons and music programs.
Music lessons usually mean your child is learning a musical instrument and taking traditional lessons from a private teacher.
Music programs can mean several different things:
- Your child is learning a musical instrument using a specific method (Suzuki) taught by a private teacher or in a group.
- Your child is engaged in different aspects of music (singing, movement, rhythm instruments, etc.) under the umbrella of a particular music program (Let’s Play Music, Orff-Schulwerk, Kodály, etc.). These are usually taught in group settings.
Participation in many of these programs starts at 18 months. Some are mommy-and-me. The emphasis is on musical games, stories, singing, and movement. As the child gets older, lessons become more sophisticated as they learn to read notes, understand intervals, notation, and even learn how to compose music.
Children involved in music are better at reading, writing, math, language arts, spelling, vocabulary, memorization and more.
The reason is simple. All music lessons and music programs build the three areas of the brain necessary for learning:
- auditory cortex
- visual/spatial cortex
- motor cortex
Let’s look at how music supports these areas of the brain and increases learning.
Brain-builder #1: Auditory Cortex
Do you know that the auditory cortex of the brain is five times smaller than the visual cortex? It’s already established in the brain that we learn quicker and easier by visually looking at something. But when a child learns to read they use their ears first, eyes second. Ears to hear the word and eyes to recognize the word.
From various brain scans, scientists know that learning a musical instrument strengthens the auditory cortex thereby making it easier for your child to
- understand speech and language
- learn vocabulary words
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain & Target Auditory Learning:
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain: Kodály
Kodály is a group music program that develops and strengthens the auditory cortex. Kodály trains a child to sing with perfect pitch without the aid of an instrument. It’s called solfege and it takes practice. While singing children learn certain hand movements called Curwen that reinforce learning.
Kodály helps children with
- memory skills as they learn different songs with different rhythms
- aural or listening skills as they listen to the varying pitch, rhythm, and harmony of a multitude of songs
- Curwen involves hand-movements and strengthens the motor areas of the brain
This singing method is an impressive brain-builder! Look for programs in your neighborhood.
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain: Suzuki
Suzuki targets the auditory cortex as your child is required to carefully listen in order to imitate what he/she hears. It can be a private or group program.
It was founded by Shinichi Suzuki in Japan. He believed that given the proper musical learning environment, all children could learn and reach their potential. His approach to teaching music is based on how children learn a language. First, they listen to the sounds (auditory) and then they try to imitate those sounds. Eventually, they mimic words, then phrases, and finally whole sentences.
Using this same method in music, Suzuki students first listen to a note, then they imitate that. The process is repeated with a musical phrase and finally an entire piece. With patience, love, and encouragement, parents and teachers teach the child to play the violin, cello, viola, flute or piano. Each step is mastered with constant repetition.
My oldest son learned the violin using the Suzuki method when he was two-years-old. It requires parent involvement, but there are two things I noticed:
- he quickly learned simple songs
- it sparked his enthusiasm to stick with it and learn more.
Brain-builder #2: Visual/Spatial Cortex
Music strengthens the visual/spatial areas of the brain. Being able to visually see and visually perceive our world is very important for learning and is connected to:
- accurately learning to read (visual perception)
- giving and understand directions (visual perception)
- integrating visual information with other senses
If your child is a strong spatial learner, he/she is able to:
- solve problems in his/her minds-eye
- think in pictures
- understand higher forms of math and science
Think Albert Einstein whose visual/spatial areas of his brain were 25 percent larger than most people. He was an accomplished violinist and credits music with organizing his brain and helping him to solve intricate theories and problems in his minds-eye. His friend said that Einstein used music for inspiration and that the answers to complex problems came to him in the midst of playing his violin.
Studies show that when your child learns a musical instrument it primes, prepares, and develops the spatial areas of the brain in such a way that your child is able to understand science, technology, engineering, and math more easily. These are called STEM subjects.
Interestingly, educators are now calling it: STEAM. This stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math–because more and more educators are realizing the importance of music and the arts on brain development.
The visual/spatial areas of the brain are also tied to creativity. Creative problem-solvers will be needed for 21st-century problems. When your children play a musical instrument, you will begin to notice a correlation between a higher level of problem-solving skills and their music skills.
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain & Target Visual/Spatial Learning
Note: these two programs are amazing for building the visual cortex as well as the auditory and motor cortices.
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain: Anybody Can Play Piano
This is a colorful program that will teach your child as young as 3-years-old to read music. Developed by Karla Hastings Crossett a conservatory-trained musician with a background in languages, she devised this music method which parallels language so that reading skills are not needed…only speech. Hence, even a 3-year-old can learn to read music using this method.
Crossett’s music program involves an app that will teach your child to play the piano using a tablet or touch-screen computer. The app works with a midi keyboard or controller and the child can use the app independently.
The music curriculum uses finger colors by matching the colors on your child’s fingers to the colors on the keyboard. This patterning helps very young children learn to read music and it also builds memorization skills as your child memorizes colors, notes, and keys on the keyboard.
Even your 2-year-old can learn to play using this method as it also involves singing, clapping, tapping, waving, pointing and moving (visual and motor development)
The Anybody Can Play Piano website has many worksheets pertaining to patterning with piano keys. They are not necessary. The app alone is sufficient, but the additional activities offered in the program reinforce visual learning.
This amazing program costs only $1.99 per month!
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain: Let’s Play Music
Let’s Play Music is the brainchild of music education major, Shelle Soelberg. Unable to find a suitable music program for her daughter, she began writing her own curriculum and a year later, Let’s Play Music, was born.
Using the concepts found in Orff-Schulwerk, Dalcroze, and Kodaly, the program will introduce your child between the ages of four through six to music, movement, and singing. It’s organized into three sequential years:
The first year incorporates games, songs and tone bells to teach staff awareness and rhythm reading skills. In the second year, your child will transfer these skills to playing the piano, where he/she will learn chord notation, intervals, and harmonic improvisation.
By the end of the third year, your child will be playing the piano at a level one or two, transposing the music, composing his/her own music, sight-reading music, and are prepared to excel in further private piano instruction.
Recently, “Sound Beginnings” was added to the curriculum. The program, for children ages two to four, includes singing, movement, games, stories, and activities.
Both “Anybody Can Play Piano” and “Let’s Play Music” are affordable music programs. Consider enrolling your children in both programs—they are worth it and they will love them!
Brain-builder #3: Motor Cortex
Learning a musical instrument develops the motor areas of our brain—which is important for the development and organization of the entire neurological system. It also helps a child with
- memory skills
When your children learn to play any musical instrument: string, percussion, brass or woodwinds, they are using their hands and/or feet—which all develop the motor areas of the brain. When your young child pounds on rhythm instruments, claps her hands, stamps her feet, snaps her fingers or marches around the room she is using the motor areas of her brain. It’s similar to a baby learning to crawl—all these activities organize the brain; helps the child to remain focused and increases memorization skills as they learn patterning and sequencing.
These specific body movements are found in the Dalcroze and Orff-Schulwerk programs.
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain & Target Motor Learning
Here are two programs that target motor learning:
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain: Dalcroze
Dalcroze was started in Switzerland by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze.
It’s a is a form of dancing that uses specific movements called eurhythmics. Children move their bodies rhythmically to the beat of the music. The body literally becomes an instrument and is trained as an instrument. Attention, concentration, and memory are required.
Dalcroze will teach your child to understand, follow, and repeat complex rhythms.
When your child hears the music, she moves her body in sync with the rhythms. By merging the sense of seeing, hearing, feeling, and moving to the music, she enjoys a complete musical experience. Many different senses come together in the Dalcroze experience: seeing, hearing, feeling and moving.
Scientists say that movement is an indispensable part of learning and thinking. Dancing and moving to the music, marching, singing, whistling melodies, humming tunes all boost a child’s language, listening and motor skills. They also help develop physical coordination, timing, and memory.
Music Programs that will Build Your Brain: Orff-Schulwerk
Orff-Schulwerk was started by a German composer, Carl Orff and his associate, Hunild Keetman. Orff’s philosophy is, “Out of movement, music; out of music, movement.” The four body movements that make up the Orff experience are:
- patting the hands on the lap
Through play activities and the use of rhythm instruments such as drums, sticks, blocks, and bells, your children learn music patterns and how to keep a beat. Orff’s melody instruments include wooden xylophones and metal glockenspiels (glockenspiel means “bell play” in German).
This method is a group experience, and your children learn to be team participants through songs, games, rhymes, and dances.
Enroll Your Kids In Music Lessons
You now have several choices: enroll your child in traditional private music lessons from a trained music teacher. Or enroll your child in one or more of the programs discussed or a combination of both.
Just remember, if you want your children to learn easier and have success in school, music will help them with:
- functioning at a higher academic level
- language development
- math and science
- enhances motor skills
- helps learning-disabled children
You can access the 2-minute video here
Do you have your children enrolled in a music program that you love and your children love? Have you noticed that the program has helped your child academically? Please share in the comment section below.
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