Does music help children?
This question has been debated for as long as time has existed. Even the great Greek and Roman philosophers approached the question: is music something that should be taught and does it help the development of children? Plato answered "I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for in the patterns of music and all arts are the keys to learning." And again "what then is the education to be? Perhaps we could hardly find a better than that which the experience of the past has already discovered, which consists, I believe, in gymnastic, for the body, and music for the mind."
In all cultures of the world music plays an important role. While these roles may change depending on the culture it is impossible to separate music from the life of an individual. While some may argue the role of music in our lives it is impossible to escape it. Even in the popular culture of Australia it is impossible to go shopping without hearing music. Music provides a means of communication and expression of culture and individual identity.
Children are immersed in music from birth and will be for their entire life. If this is the case why teach it? Is not the constant immersion in music enough? To this I say; is the fact that we witness the results of scientific principals on a day to day basis result in the understanding of those scientific principles? No it does not and likewise for music it does not either. The day to day encounters we have with music can move us but the understanding of this music can help us grow as individuals.
In many cultures the family plays the main role in music education. Families are most commonly the ones that teach children the music of their culture. As young children, we are commonly sung nursery rhymes. These provide entertainment for the child and often information in small repeated fashion. Children learn through the repetition and structure that the information was delivered in. many nursery rhymes teach fundamental life lesson and therefore sets music up as a means of educating. Children learn from music from a young age and will continue to for the rest of their lives. In a world where globalization and consumerism are dominating cultural identities are drifting into the background and children are more likely to be sung pop songs as lullaby's than nursery rhymes. The benefit of nursery rhymes and progressive learning has become an issue. Children are missing out on fundamental learning opportunities.
The Mozart effect which gained a large following in the 1990's claimed that listening to Mozart as a baby will make a child smarter. While this movement was short lived and there is little proof that it works there has been no denying that children who learn music will achieve higher in other aspects of their academic life. In earning music children learn to express their identities, gain confidence and develop sense of time and space. A research team at the university of Munster in Germany discovered that students who study music have more developed abstract reasoning skills which are closely linked to learning in the areas of science and maths.
I do not believe that there is any argument to this question¡music is a vital part of a child's education and should be taken seriously. Listening to music is not enough! A child must learn to think musically and that is what will help assist the development of the child and their academic development.