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Even before a child learns to speak, they learn to communicate and connect with song and sound. Children respond naturally to music. Some suggest that babies are born with inherent musical capabilities because their responses to music are immediate and instinctive: they are not learned.
While every child can enjoy, learn and grow through music, there is increasing evidence to show that active participation in musical activities can actually alter the anatomy and development of the brain. Researchers believe that early musical experiences intensify the development of neuronal synapses. By increasing the number of interconnections between brain cells, music essentially enhances a child's ability to think, learn, reason and create.
It is important to note however, that for music to have a profound effect on brain development, a child must physically engage in musical activities. Furthermore, these activities must provide a comprehensive sensory experience. It is not enough for a child just to listen to music.
Children to actively participate - to feel, make, hear and memorize sounds and patterns; to sing, clap dance and remember movements. The quality and timing of these musical experiences are paramount. Ideally, parents should aim to expose their children to musical activities prior to age two when the proliferation of neuronal synapses is at its peak. However, the number of synapses remain elevated until a child is around 7 years of age, so the benefits of music can still be realised in older children.
Johannella Tafuri and Donatella Villa (2002)
This report is the first stage of a longitudinal "inCanto" research project, the aim of which is to find out if children who receive an appropriate ‘musical education’, broadly speaking, from the 6th month of prenatal life onwards are able to sing in tune, and if they develop this skill earlier than the general population. In the stage presented here we try to establish the point at which children who have been musically stimulated 3–4 months before birth start to produce their first musical babbling, and analyse the musical content of their vocalisations. For these purposes we organised a weekly course of music for 68 mothers-to-be and for their children after birth. The amount and the quality of the vocalisations produced by the children in the experimental group were found to be higher than reported in previously published studies, and the analysis of the musical babbling revealed the presence of musical patterns belonging to our musical system.
Part one of Keys To Music begins a four-part series focusing on Music Education. For the entire series Graham will be joined in the studio by Richard Gill, one of Australia's leading conductors, music educators and public advocates for music. In Part 1 of the series they discuss the importance of dance and movement in a child's musical experiences. In this program they will be joined by Dr Micheal Giddens, a leading exponent of Dalcroze Eurhythmics.
Graham continues his series on Music Education with Richard Gill. In this program they discuss the importance of singing in a child's life. They will be joined by Kathryn Sadler, one of Melbourne's leading singing teachers and choir directors.
Part 3 of Keys To Music's series on Music Education sees Graham and Richard Gill discuss why learning an instrument is good for children. They will be joined by Alastair McKean, Director of Border Music Camp in Albury.
Graham and Richard Gill conclude their discussion on the importance of Music Education for children. In this program they focus on the proven benefits of musical experiences for a child's intellectual and social development.