The most recent neuroscientific studies, into the effects of active music making on brain development in early years, show that regular involvement in active music making significantly impact IQ and communication skills. It has also been shown that every child with healthy brain development in early years is born with the innate potential to benefit from music's brain boosting potential.
It is a myth that you are born with no talent for music. Lack of a sense of rhythm or pitch is due to lack of practise in early years when the neural connections are being made. We also know from studies that active music making supports phonemic awareness, language, literacy, co-ordination, physical fitness, maths, memory, social and emotional development - all of those important 'school ready' skills.
So why are parents and practitioners in early years widely unaware of this? Our experience at Boogie Mites shows us that due to very poor music education generally for adults in this country, the majority of adults have no confidence in their own ability to lead the simple music activities that can harness these brain boosting benefits. Also there is little or no music included in teacher training and it gets little mention in the EYFS. They have been led to believe that only a qualified musician visiting the more affluent settings can lead inspiring music making with their children and they generally stick to safe ground with nursery rhymes and traditional songs.
I believe that as a priority, we need to spread the message, train our early years practitioners and parents to understand these benefits, to know that they can do it, to access inspiring age appropriate music resources that will motivate and engage both adults and children, to practise as a shared activity regularly from birth to five years.
This could reduce the school ready attainment gap between children from affluent and poorer backgrounds, better preparing the brain with the capacity to listen, learn and communicate through the power of music.
- Sue Newman is a director at Boogie Mites, which for ten years has provided music programmes and training workshops for the early years sector, to support young children's development.