“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
Hello all! Let me start by wishing all the readers a very Happy and Prosperous New Year! After a much needed vacation break, am happy to be back and share the next topic of my Multiple Intelligence article series. Having dealt with the relatively “academic” topics in my earlier blogs, I decided to go with a light, yet very essential medium of learning in children, music, and what better way to kick off the New Year than in a melodious musical way!
Musical Intelligence-A few years ago, people found it difficult to associate music with academics, learning or education. It was usually seen as a recreational activity, some pass time or for a very few as an actual career option. However, over the last few years this notion has seen a major setback, thanks to a number of studies and researches carried out by eminent theorists and scientists. These studies nothing but prove what Plato established hundreds of years ago. In his own learned words, “Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education. I would teach children music, physics and philosophy, but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning”.
Let us first answer the most basic question of all. What is Musical Intelligence? Is it the ability to ‘sing’ well? Is it about having a beautiful voice with modulations? Can it be enhanced by joining music classes? These questions have a very simple answer. Musical intelligence is just the ability to relate to music, patterns and rhythms. A child who is able to listen, observe and absorb music, manipulate it and use it effectively in his/her learning process is said to possess excellent musical intelligence. These children have a keen ear for sounds, vibrations, beats, rhythms, pitch etc. This ability can be cited as a reason for some kids to pick up songs and rhymes in a jiffy. In fact, even complex concepts like addition, subtraction, letters and varied science processes can be taught in a musical way to these children, which makes it surprisingly easy for them. Where traditional and conventional teaching means fail to strike a chord with these children, music does the job in the most magical and beautiful way.
How do we identify children with musical intelligence?
Once we identify this learning ability in a child, we are on the path to lead him/her towards the desired learning outcomes, through a musical journey. Following are a few characteristics which can help us in this direction.
- These children have excellent listening skills and pick up on even the most subtle gradation, difference or refinement.
- Crickets chirping in the garden, birds singing on a tree outside the classroom etc. are the sounds these children are attracted to. They are always sensitive to different sounds which are to be heard around them, even the ones which we adults easily tend to miss out on.
- These children have the ability to identify patterns, rhythm, pitch etc. even when the variation isn’t substantial. This ability is sometimes even beyond songs and music. They practically identify patterns even in non-musical things like objects, things in the nature etc.
- They learn things via songs and rhymes. They absorb concepts in the form of patterns and rhythms. For example, a child may not follow the sequencing of numbers when said in a rote way, but is quick to grasp and retain it in the form of a number song! That explains why the A B C D song is the most popular tool to introduce letters to young children.
Music as an effective and handy tool with kindergarteners.
- Listening to music. Have loads of songs, rhymes or even instrumental music in the classroom or your home. Creating songs is another way or incorporating music in the curriculum. The adult can pick up a topic which the child is struggling with, and string it into simple jingles or rhymes. This helps in absorption as well as retention of the concept.
- Science and music go hand in hand. Like music, science too follows steps and patterns. Science and math concepts can be taught in the most effective way, when done in a musical way. Arrange the scientific steps of how a plant grows in a musical pattern. Play music for children while they do mathematical sums. It sometimes is unbelievable how the patterns in music help children identify patterns in what they learn. And to top it all, it has been seen that music also aids in calming the mind and fostering problem solving in children.
- Language and speech development. Musical activities like singing and creating songs can be an excellent tool for adults dealing with children facing language and speech challenges. Music has been used in treating and managing serious speech problems like stammering, delay in speech, stuttering and others. Needless to say, songs and rhymes play an important role in enhancing the vocabulary of children. They learn new words, the contexts in which they are used and then sprinkle their conversations with these new and interesting words.
- Social and cultural development. Music is an integral part of our history. The human being has been associated with music from time immemorial. This innate quality can be used in fostering social and cultural development in young children. A group song using a regional musical instrument is possibly the best way to instill a feeling of belonging, in a diverse group. A super hit activity among children is making simple musical instruments using easily available things around them. This helps them work in a group and create something new and innovative, rendering a sense of achievement to an individual, as well as the group as a whole.
- Music and movement! Music and movement are inseparable and go in tandem. A catchy song or rhyme acts as an excellent ice breaker. Music aids in developing physical development as well. How often have we seen children break into a jig as soon as they hear their favourite song being played!
- Music can also be a good confidence boost. The otherwise shy and intimidated child may instantly pick up on a song and perform it in front of a crowd.
Activities for musically intelligent children
- Songs and rhymes.
- Listening to and learning songs in different languages.
- Listening to various musical instruments and making a few of them.
- Song and dance activities.
- Games like musical chair.
- Popular music from all over the world.
- Recordings of different sounds and patterns.
- Dr. Seuss books (as they have rhyming words).
I hope this article has been successful in shedding some light on the importance of music in the learning process of young children. Infact, this is like having the best of both worlds, learning and having fun! Children learn in the most beautiful way possible, MUSIC!
Chaitra is a Bangalore based kindergarten teacher who is passionate about children and their developmental aspects. She is a graduate of Home Science and holds a Masters’ degree in Human Development (Early Childhood Education). As a part of her Thesis, she has co-published a book stressing on the importance of introducing science at an early age, as young as 3 years. She has a two year work experience with one of India’s largest chain of preschools, Kidzee. Currently, she is employed as a kindergarten teacher with a reputed international school in Bangalore. Apart from having a blast with young children every day, her other interests are trying out and cooking new and different cuisines, reading and travelling.