Baby Brains: Music and Speech

Baby Brains

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is full of patterns. It’s why educators and researchers have pointed out for a long time now that music helps kids with math. And now, thanks to technological advances that help us “see” inside the brain, we’re starting to understand more and more of how music shapes and impacts cognitive development, therefore significantly impacting other areas of development such as language acquisition.

In the earliest years, a child’s ongoing cognitive development and experiences are a big part of his or her language development. The cognitive aspects of learning to speak and communicate have a great deal to do with memory, focus, and understanding patterns.

This is where early childhood music classes come in. Recent research has found that music and movement classes literally changed how the brain processed “both music and new speech sounds.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]


The findings of this study were incredibly exciting to those of us who are so passionate about providing early childhood music enrichment experiences through our weekly Kindermusik classes.

“Our study is the first in young babies to suggest that experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music can also improve the ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech,” said lead author Christina Zhao, a post-doctoral researcher at University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

“This means that early, engaging musical experiences can have a more global effect on cognitive skills.”

“In both the music and control groups, we gave babies experiences that were social, required their active involvement and included body movements – these are all characteristics that we know help people learn. The key difference between the play groups was whether the babies were moving to learn a musical rhythm.”

Music and movement classes like Kindermusik baby and toddler classes check all of these boxes and more – a rich social experience, delightfully engaging parent-child play and interaction, rhythmic experiences through instrument play and movement activities, an immersive language environment, and a beautiful, sequential curriculum. These curricula are thoughtfully and carefully designed, not only to be joyful and playful, but also meaningful and impactful on a child’s long term learning and development.

“This research reminds us that the effects of engaging in music go beyond music itself. Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children’s abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today’s complex world.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Now more than ever, we’re proud to confidently assure parents that one of the very best learning experiences you can give your little one are the delightful and developmentally rich experiences you will both have in a weekly music and movement class like Kindermusik.

And we promise, you’ll get the extra bonus of being a part of putting that adorable smile on her little face and that sweet song in his little heart…to stay.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Contributed by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in upstate South Carolina has been making a difference for children and families for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Getting the Rhythm of Language Development

Our speech is made up of sounds, patterns, and rhythms, so it makes sense that being in a environment of sounds and developing a strong sense of rhythm and steady beat in the earliest years of childhood can positively impact language development.  Some researchers even go so far as to make the bold claim that “[w]ithout the ability to hear musically, it would be impossible to learn to speak.”

Enter Kindermusik, where we too would agree that “…music is a special type of language” and where rhythms, songs, rhymes, and steady beat become almost as natural as breathing.  All throughout the Kindermusik experience, from birth to 7 years, children are immersed in a world of communication through sound, through musically being sung to and spoken to as infants and then invited to be participants in the sound-making by singing and speaking back.  In addition to singing, rhymes and steady beat activities also form some of the earliest experiences with music in this immersive environment.

Because of the process-based emphasis in Kindermusik, the learning is natural, easy, and fun.  Kids and parents love it, and it doesn’t take long to realize the depth and long-lasting impact of such a rich musical environment on the development of language.

Kindermusik and Language Development

Want to support your child’s early language and literacy development? Then find a local Kindermusik class!

Early Language Development Flourishes through Music

Pediatricians will often recommend music classes for children with language delays.  Speech therapists regularly incorporate music and rhymes in their therapy sessions with young children.  Researchers have identified talking and singing with a small child as one of the most effective tools for closing the word gap with under-served populations.

nothing more powerful than musicHere are six music activities that support early language development – all six are favorites of our Kindermusik parents in class and at home:

Vocal Play – “Bah-bah-bah.” (pause) 

Conversational back-and-forth play with parts of words, whole words, parts of songs, and short rhythms gives mouth muscles practice forming syllables and words.

Nursery Rhymes – “Hey diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle.

Nursery Rhymes are not only rich with the sounds that vowels and consonants make, they are also catchy and repeatable.

Timbre – Scritch-scratch, tap-tap, jingle!

Hearing and labeling the very different and distinct sounds of instruments expands listening skills and enriches vocabulary.

Movement labels – Gallop, skip, twist, twirl!

Simultaneously moving and labeling the movements engages the brain with the body and grows a bigger vocabulary.

Steady beat – “ta – ta – ta – ta and stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp!”

Recent studies have found a close link between rhythmic skills and language skills.  So the more you dance, march, and play-along with music, the stronger your music and language skills will be.

Instrument Exploration – “Can you say guiro? It goes ritch-ratch, ritch-ratch.”

Exploring and labeling instruments and their sounds in a relaxed, non-structured time of instrument exploration provides another perfect opportunity to practice and repeat sounds and words that we don’t always use every day.
So go ahead.  Sing, chant, listen, label, move, and explore your way through your day with your child.  You’ll be amazed at how a little bit of music and some musical activities here and there each day will enhance his or her language development!
Kindermusik is where music and learning playLearn more about how Kindermusik can give you the inspiration you need for improving your child’s language development at or by clicking on the buttons to the right.

Talk to me, please!

mom and baby engage in conversationRecent research sparked this striking headline in an AFP article“Baby talk is more than just bonding: chatting with your infant spurs important brain development that sets the stage for lifelong learning…”  
So, exactly HOW do you go about having these vital conversations with your baby, you ask?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  At Kindermusik, we love sharing tips that make great parenting a little bit easier, help your child advance developmentally, and make your lives a whole lot more musical.

  • Start the conversation habit at a young age.  There’s a window of opportunity in the early years when the brain is undergoing incredible growth.
  • Look your baby in the eye when you talk to him or her.  Feeding time, bath time, baby massage, or diaper changes are all easy opportunities to engage your baby.
  • Speak to your baby using regular vocabulary and full sentences.  This helps your child develop a wider vocabulary and process spoken language better.
  • Give your child a chance to respond.  If you talk and then wait for a response, this will cue your baby to coo or babble back.
  • Sing to your child.  Young children benefit tremendously from the repetition of words and even from new or different words found in song lyrics.
  • Play with rhymes.  Whether it’s words you rhyme or simple children’s poems, chants, fingerplays, or toe tickles, rhyming not only enhances language development, but it also paves the way to literacy.

Benefits Of Music for ChildrenNeed some inspiration for talking or singing to your baby?  Enroll in a Kindermusik!  You’ll receive tips and ideas in class and interactive Home Materials to help the music, learning, and fun last through the week at home.  It’s easy to get started with a free preview class, or simply by finding your local licensed Kindermusik educator.

Musical Variety is the Spice of Life

Infants are born with the ability to process musical sounds and patterns, and there is an optimum window of time between birth and three years when the ear is ripe for aural language development. The musical stimulation we provide as parents is so important for this language development.
Because music is also important in developing a child’s sense of patterning and memory skills, it follows that providing exposure to a wide variety of music should be one of our educational goals as parents. Kindermusik effectively widens the musical world for your child by providing choice selections from many lands and cultures.

Exposure to cultures through music

Children need a balance between the familiar and the new… and Kindermusik provides just that. One of the ways we can help our children appreciate and begin to understand other cultures and people groups is by exposing them to their music. One of the great joys of music is the connection it provides emotionally across cultural lines.
As your child listens and engages in musical experiences provided by Kindermusik and at home, he acquires a musical repertoire that will last a lifetime. He is developing his musical “taste buds”, to “appreciate the finer things”, and to enjoy new musical “tastes and textures”. The wider the array of musical styles, the richer that repertoire will be. Listen to your Kindermusik recordings and you’ll find multi-cultural music in a variety of musical styles. And the best part? It’s just plain fun to listen to! Now if only Kindermusik could accomplish the same thing with your child’s diet, right?!

Are you looking for some musical variety?

Try a free Kindermusik class today!  It’s a musical experience with songs and activities the whole family will love – in class and at home.

Compiled by Theresa Case, whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.