That sounds like a skill set a major CEO possesses, right?
The term executive function refers to a set of skills that are essential to the healthy development of young children and that lead to an overall healthier life. These skills must be learned, and music is one fun and easy way to help practice them.
It’s not a coincidence that some of the most brilliant minds in history were (and are!) also musicians. That list includes famous names like Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Galileo, and Steven Spielberg. Research study after research study continues to show that music education or to be more precise – actively engaging in musical activities on a consistent basis – significantly affects the cognitive development and abilities of participants.
Consider these four big ways music affects the brain.
Improved Math Abilities
Long before research studies showed how music-making positively impacts a child’s math abilities and understanding, the great mathematician Pythagorus said, “Music is math made audible.” Now we know that children engaged in math show increased abilities in spatial awareness, pattern recognition, and numbers and measurement. As children grow and continue to participate through high school, music students even score 23 points above average on SAT tests.
Can you identify the pattern in this classic Kindermusik circle dance?
Improved Reading Abilities
We could write a whole book on the connections between music and reading. In fact, we have! (You can download our free ebooks from this page). Children who participate in music classes experience boosts in phonological awareness, auditory discrimination, auditory sequencing, and vocabulary. Plus, reading music even models for children how to read left to right and top to bottom.
When compared to their peers, musicians have better memories. In addition, musicians show improvements in auditory verbal memory and auditory memory. Dr. Nina Kraus, a prominent brain researcher at Northwestern University, has likened the effects of music on the brain to the effects of exercise on the body. Increasing the working memory capacity of the brain improves thinking ability.
Children who participate in music classes over time experience a boost in their IQ. In fact, the longer a child participates in a consistent weekly music class, the greater the effect. But you don’t have to just take our word on it, here’s an interesting article recently put out by the American Psychology Association about this very correlation between music classes and IQ.
Although this is the time of year when many Kindermusik programs take a brief holiday break, no one has to take a break from musical, family-oriented activities over the holidays! In fact, the holidays are the perfect time to take a few minutes here and there to de-stress, make a memory, and enjoy all that the holidays were meant to be. Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started: