More Than Just Music

Tuesday, 04.09.2018

Music is one of the most basic yet intricate forms of communication available to us; it’s able to help us feel and understand what the creator of the music is going through, and it also helps with cognitive development of our kids. 

Combined with movement activities, music becomes amazing for your kids’ development in physical, mental, and emotional growth. Thankfully, we were able to grab hold of Shauna Chen, an expert with a wealth of experience in teaching kids music under her belt, and have her share some of it with you parents!

Shauna Chen (SC): Music and movement instruction improves children’s memory, cognitive development, learning skills, and expressive ability. To get there, music needs to be delivered to the children in an effective way.

Question: What are the benefits of music in child development?'

A key indicator of social-emotional ability is self-regulation. Children who display self-regulation control their impulses, pay attention, work flexibly towards goals, and show ability to plan and organise their actions.

For example, a self-regulated child can wait his or her turn in line without frustration, will resist blurting out answers when other children have been asked a question, and might be observed suggesting fair solutions to a playground problem. A self-regulated child can also handle instruments better at their ready-age when it happens.

Which do you think is more important? World-ready skills like those above, or the ability to point out a few alphabets from memory?

Language and Literacy
To develop better language and hone literacy, it all starts with listening. Which means, we need to build better listeners to develop better language and literacy skills in children. How do we do that?

Each Kindermusik class includes focused listening activities using music, rhymes, non-musical sounds, and language. The innate push of children to want to make music together makes them naturally engage their listening ears; constant exposure to such listening opportunities then turn them into better listeners.

Music contributes positively to academic development. Let’s talk about foundational mathematical skills and thought processes. As you listen to music or make music, the brain creates neuron pathways, the same pathways used for completing complex spatial reasoning tasks.

Researchers are telling us that to tap on these strengthened connections, children need music instruction early. Educators are also pointing to music instruction that is structured, well-articulated and systematic. Both of  which can be met with the Kindermusik curricula. 

In 2000, Bilhartz et al. proved, using Kindermusik’s Young Child programme, that “music training not involving the keyboard enhances spatial-temporal, mathematical, and verbal reasoning”. The reason behind this is because Kindermusik's training geared towards developing children’s kinaesthetic, aural, and visualisation skills. To us educators, it is most importantly a case of being developmentally appropriate.

Children are wired to learn by moving and Kindermusik provides varied movement experiences to create opportunities for that. As that happens, our children also develop better spatial awareness and body awareness. 

We do plenty of group dances and circle games to allow the children to “feel” movement, emotion, and make social connections. In the process of participating in the circle movement activity, children also develop steady beat and ensemble skills. 

All children are born musical. Our task is to retain that musical aptitude before age 6! Continued participation in Kindermusik develops musicianship skills: i) singing, ii) moving the body in large or small ways to express oneself, which later translates to ability to expressing via instrumental play, and iii) ability to make music in a group, ensembles at this level, in preparation for orchestral involvement later on in life.

Question: Is there a growing interest among local parents to introduce their kids to music?

SC: When Kindermusik first started in Singapore close to 20 years ago, almost 70-80% of the parents were expats. Today at our studios, 90% of the parents are locals. This increase has to do with the increase in affluence of Singaporeans. 

Rather than this being a change of perceived value towards the arts, I think it’s more so because of the recent increase in brain research materials on music and its effects on the brain, as compared to 40 years ago. The increase in brain activity at the presence of music has been research proven.

Kindermusik curriculum, for one, is a research based one. There is now enough information from the scientific field that guides us to deliver experiences that actually work, for the development of our children. As parents read more, are able to find out more, and therefore know of the benefits that music education brings to their young child.

Question: Are parents who are musically inclined more likely to have ‘musical kids’? Or can music be learned on its own?

SC: We believe all children are born musical. The most musical person is the actually that newborn that just came into the world but they’re just not at the expressing stage yet. The difference between a musical child and a “non-musical” one is whether effort has been taken to retain that musicality before it starts diminishing. 

Because these musical parents enjoy musical activities, and does them with the child, she therefore grows up to display more musical aptitude too!

How can music be part of our daily family lives?

SC: Before our modern lives took over, music was, naturally, a part of family tradition and everyday life. The only way for music to re-enter homes is to provide grown-ups with easy resources to tap on while at home. People are busy, gadgets are distracting, laziness kicks in, so it’s important their access to appropriate music is easy. 

This is the reason why Kindermusik has home kits to help support each term’s learning while your kids are at home. The simplest homework of putting music on is one way to integrate music into the household. We hope our millennium parents are more compelled to do that by providing digital music on top of their CDs so that their child’s music can be streamed from anywhere and anytime. 

Music should be part of the environment. It should be seamless and unintentionally so. Let’s sing a song while walking down the corridor, let’s tap on our cups during snack time, let’s play a rhythmic clapping game before bed time. 

That’s what children need, as opposed to intentional rah rah segments at certain festivals and events only. Music has to be part of their lives, not just a supplement in it!

Question: What approach does Kindermusik use when teaching your kids about music?

SC: In class, we sing, we move, we play instruments. And we find the perfect balance of the 3 pedagogies - Orff, Kodaly and Dalcroze to suit our little ones. Children need to experience all these with the best musical sounding audio and quality instruments, both of which are the pride of Kindermusik. They need a role model for their musicality from their earliest years – this, our Kindermusik specialists are able to deliver. 

We’re changing each child with each session, and we know this because parents and teachers tell us this all the time. The quiet child who has been keeping to himself starts singing while waiting to be picked up from school. Both his teacher and parent were pleasantly surprised and quickly attributed it to Kindermusik.

Music education, not music entertainment. Process, not end product.

Kindermusik is fun, but it’s not a free concert with a music teacher. Each week, a trained specialist in music and early childhood provides an interactive learning experience for your child. Every lesson is highly structured. Every activity is backed by 40 years of experience in music and child development. Every connection is made with the child-first approach in mind.  We are biiiiig on being developmentally appropriate, because real learning only takes place when kids learn at their level. 



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