At first glance, music classes for kids might not seem like the best place to look for future scientists, technology experts, engineers, or mathematicians. Well, look again! New research indicates that an early childhood music class is exactly where we should look.
Researchers from Michigan State University recently published a study that found that 93 percent of STEM graduates (college students who majored in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) reported musical training as a child compared to only 34 percent of the average adult. STEM graduates also showed an increased involvement in the visual arts, acting, dance, and creative writing.
Benefits of music for children continue through adulthood
“The most interesting finding was the importance of sustained participation in those activities,” said Rex LaMore, director of MSU’s Center for Community and Economic Development, in a press release. “If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years, you’re more likely to be an inventor as measured by the number of patents generated, businesses formed or articles published. And that was something we were surprised to discover.”
According to the research team, participation in the arts, such as music classes for kids, encourages “out-of-the-box thinking.” The STEM graduates reported using those skills they learned in music or art classes—such as analogies, playing, and imagination—to solve complex scientific problems.
Music and learning in early childhood education
In Kindermusik, we know children also use exploration and problem solving to learn what an object does and how it works. We call that process epistemic play. In our early childhood curriculum, we provide many opportunities for children to explore objects in order to better understand how they work. While trying out all the ways to tap, shake, or roll an instrument or stomp, tap, tiptoe our feet, children gain a foundational understanding of how things work. Plus, all this epistemic play supports a child’s overall cognitive development.