Growing Bookworms – Developmental benefits of music for young children

When I was at school, we had music lessons during which we learned to play certain easy songs on an instrument like a recorder or a xylophone. We were also taught to sing musical notes in much the same way as Maria teaches the von Trapp children to sing notes in the film The Sound of Music.

I can remember listening to stories that taught me and my classmates about musical instruments and the different sounds they make. Peter and the Wolf comes to mind, as well as my personal favourite, Sparky’s Magic Piano.

If you are interested in watching Sparky’s Magic Piano, or have a child you would like to share it with, you can watch it here:

I always wanted to learn how to play the piano. Our neighbour started teaching me once and I was getting along nicely, but then we moved to another town and the opportunity didn’t present itself again.

Both my sons had music lessons and Gregory passed Grade 5 theory and practical piano. Michael initially wanted to learn the violin, but that didn’t last very long. He went on to learn the piano for a few years and is now having drum lessons.

Before my sons were born, I remember reading that learning to play an instrument was beneficial to the study of mathematics and this is one of the reasons I encouraged music so much with my sons.  I understand that this link has been demonstrated through a study conducted by NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants Foundation) (You can read more about it here:

More recently, I discovered recently that scientists at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute have discovered a link between music in early childhood and accelerated brain development. You can read more about that study here:

Studies have demonstrated that learning music can improve speech and readings skills in children by increasing their abilities to differential between different sounds and understand the patterns of language.

The top ten benefits of music and learning a musical instrument for children are as follows:

  1. Improved brain development due to music’s ability to stimulate parts of the brain that govern hearing, memory, movement, and emotion.
  2. Improved social skills as music helps children identify facial expressions, communicate with peers, and empathise with others.
  3. Increases creativity and builds problem solving skills.
  4. Learning to play an instrument promotes self-discipline in children.
  5. Learning to play an instrument increases children’s self-esteem.
  6. Musically trained children have better memories as music strengthens the hippocampus in the brain, which plays a vital role in regulating learning, memory encoding, memory consolidation, and spatial navigation.
  7. There is an overlap of the brain connections which process music and language with the result that learning music and learning to read complement each other.
  8. Music is a natural mood enhancer and helps children to reduce stress by calming and soothing them.
  9. Children who learn music have a better ability to control their own behaviour, emotions, and impulses.
  10. Learning a musical instrument improves co-ordination in children.

The one thing I noticed with my son, Gregory, who was reading music fluently at the age of five, was that the transition from written musical notes to written letters was a bit of an effort for him. It was a bit like learning a second language. This was not a big disadvantage for him, but it did take a little longer for him to learn the alphabet than I expected. Michael learned the alphabet before I started music lessons with him, and he found it more difficult to learn the music notes than the alphabet.

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews.

44 Comments on “Growing Bookworms – Developmental benefits of music for young children”

  1. All of us children were offered the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. My sister chose, french horn. My brother picked the coronet and drums. I was gifted the use of a clarinet by one of my mother’s brothers, so that was MY instrument. Our lives were amazingly enriched as a result. Both of our parents played the guitar, and my siblings are rather talented guitar players.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hi Annette, you are very fortunate to have had an opportunity to learn a musical instrument. There are so many benefits to music and learning to play an instrument. I have always loved music and sang in the school choir for some years. I remember all the musical stories we listened to in class and I love Broadway and live musical productions.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Dave Astor says:

    Very informative post, Robbie! Many benefits to playing musical instruments, as you “note.” 🙂 (My older daughter took piano lessons for a number of years, and my younger daughter currently takes violin and viola lessons and is in the high school orchestra.)

    Liked by 4 people

    • HI Dave, you gave both your girls a wonderful opportunity when you gave them this gift of music. A lot of kids stop practicing instruments in high school but many return to music in later life. I think it is the same with reading.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    Today, I am over at Writing to be Read with a post about the developmental benefits of music for young children. Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Darlene says:

    Like you, I wished to learn to play the piano but it just didn’t happen for various reasons. I believe that playing music, or even just listening to it, is beneficial to children’s learning.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. willedare says:

    Thank you for weighing in so informatively about music and children. I have seen a video about recent brain research which shows how many different parts of our brain light up when listening to music — and how they REALLY light up when actively making music! I lead music classes (as part of an international company called Music Together) for small children and their accompanying grownup (parent, grandparent, nanny, etc.) There are well-documented stages of tonal and rhythmic development which (ideally) all of us pass through en route to basic musical competence. And in Music Together, all of this development is grounded in having fun. I have become friends with professional musicians for whom the fun (due in part to teachers like the one at the beginning of the magic piano video…) has been destroyed. May everyone learn to enjoy listening to music and dancing to music and singing and making music — alone AND with other human beings!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for this wonderful comment. I am thrilled to hear about Music Together. Sadly, it was my son’s grade 6 music teacher who killed his love of piano. She turned it into a real chore and took all the pleasure out of it. I’ve had more success with Michael because I didn’t let him take exams.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    Great post, Robbie 🙂 I completely agree about the benefits of music instruments and learning.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. marianbeaman says:

    I too remember learning to play the recorder in school. We also had voice lessons as a class in grade school. Thanks for introducing me to Sparky’s Magic Piano!

    At home, all of us children, except my brother, were introduced to the piano. I went on to play the violin in the orchestra at high school. I continue to play the piano these days, but have lost my touch with violin strings. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I took piano lessons in elementary school, but when I was forced to complete theory worksheets, I quit. I played clarinet in the high school band, which I enjoyed. I then made the mistake of taking music theory, during which the light finally dawned that music and math are very closely related–and music would never be my mode of creative expression. Now I just listen to music and enjoy it.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. memadtwo says:

    Part of the learning experience for my children was being in an ensemble–my older daughter in band, and the younger one in chorus (although she also plays piano). They both valued it so much they continued through college–my older daughter even continued playing in the marching band through law school. I do think there is a connection between music and math–they are both abstract languages in a way. That’s interesting about your sons and reading. (K)

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Teri Polen says:

    My sons are the exception to the rule about the connection between math and music, lol. Son #2, a music major, hated math. Son #1 had no interest in music, but was exceptional at math. But I agree that exposing children to music is very important. Wonderful post, Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Absolutely agree with your premise, Robbie. Both of my children played music through HS. Saving the link to Sparky!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. olganm says:

    There wasn’t a lot of emphasis placed on music when I was a child and the school only offered private guitar lessons, and I never took them up. Thanks for sharing those studies. Not everyone’s creativity works the same way, but opening up one’s mind, especially that of a child, is very important. Thanks, Robbie.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. A very interesting article Robbie and I can well believe the benefits of learning to play and to read music, particularly in relation to mathematics and also languages. I didn’t stay long enough in any school to learn an instrument to any great degree but I always sang in the choir etc. I did learn to play a guitar when I was about 2o and wish I had done that earlier.. thanks to you and Kaye for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Jane Risdon says:

    An interesting article, Robbie. Thanks. Having worked daily with musicians and record producers for decades I know the link between maths and music only too well. It is something I noticed long ago. I loved music lessons at school, we had an orchestra and I played treble recorder. My husband is a musician and he is way better at maths than I. Thanks x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jane, thank you for adding your experience. Maths and music also go with chess. It has always intrigued me that you get child protégées in these three areas but not in writing or art.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jane Risdon says:

        I think teaching of English and art must have deteriorated since I was at school. There was a huge art department and we learned lino and wood cutting, painting, making murals, pottery, lead glass cutting and silk screen printing and more. We went on trips to art galleries and exhibitions and even to the ‘new’ Coventry Cathedral because it was very modern. My Eng Lit and Lang classes were wonderful and I was taught by a former actor. He used to make books come alive., he encouraged creative writing and we did comprehension after reading a book and then had to precis the stories. He took us to see movies of the books, To Sir With Love for example, and we went to see Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in Taming of the Shrew in Oxford at the theatre. He directed and scripted the school plays too. We also read the classics and poetry. Mr, Kilner. He loved my writing and encouraged me and others, and I won two prizes for English Lit and Lang, just because of him. I learned instruments at school in music lessons, read music back then – now long forgotten. We had a debating society too. Loved it all. Sad kids miss out now.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Jennie says:

    Yes, yes, yes!!! This is so true and very important for children. Thank you, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Toni Pike says:

    Fantastic ideas, Robbie – I think music has a tremendous impact on children’s learning abilities. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

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