The Benefits of Music in the Classroom

Do you remember your favorite preschool nursery rhyme or song that was sung to you when you were a toddler? The answer is likely no; however, that doesn’t mean the music you were exposed to as a child didn’t have a tremendous impact on your development.

Music is a powerful tool and the benefits of music in the classroom are innumerable. It helps with all areas of a child’s development, including fine and gross motor skills, language and literacy, social-emotional and more.

Here are seven reasons you should incorporate music into your curriculum and classroom lessons.

1.) Music is calming and helps improve mood

First and foremost, music is a mood lifter. Research shows it can positively impact our emotional, mental and physical health. Furthermore, it’s been shown to improve medical outcomes and a patient’s quality of life.

It’s that powerful.

Listening to music releases endorphins, which are the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals.  This has a multitude of benefits, including calming anxiety – something we know children deal with on a daily basis as they navigate the world around th

2.)  It improves cognitive development

Music has been shown to improve cognition and enhance learning and memory, which in turn improves academic performance in students. And the great news is, it doesn’t have to be formal music instruction. One study shows that even consistent informal music-making has benefits equal to or greater than reading.

Music makes things memorable. That means it can help students focus and remember what you’re teaching them better by attaching lessons to catchy songs and rhythms. That’s why as a teacher, you should incorporate education through music into your lesson plans.

Take whatever lesson you’re working on and incorporate a tune to help students recall the information. Perhaps the most well-known example of education through music is when we learn to sing the alphabet. But you can incorporate this technique into any lesson, whether it be math, science or something else.

3.)  Music increases coordination and motor skills

The wonderful thing about music for the classroom is your kiddos don’t have to understand all the lyrics to a song, know how to read music or play an instrument for it to benefit them.

They can simply clap, snap and dance along to the rhythm of a song or tune. Their natural inclination to move along to a song will help them develop coordination and gross motor skills. After all, everyone is born with an innate sense of rhythm, which begins when children are in the womb and experience their mother’s heartbeat.

There are also a number of instruments that are perfect for helping toddlers develop fine motor skills, including various drums, xylophones, tambourines, shakers and more.

Just remember, the reason for giving your students access to these instruments isn’t to master playing them, but simply a way to help develop their motor skills in a fun way and introduce education through music.

4.)  Education through music helps with emotional development

Another one of the benefits of music in the classroom is that it supports emotional development.

Music can help children identify and express feelings they experience like happiness, fear or anger. For instance, students might hear a certain sound that elicits a certain emotion, e.g. the sound of rain evokes a feeling of relaxation.

In fact, recently, University of California Berkeley scientists mapped 13 key emotions evoked by music, including amusement, joy, relaxation, sadness, scariness and feeling pumped up.

Research has revealed that children who participate in group music activities exhibited increased cooperation compared to kids who didn’t participate in the same activities.

Finally, studies have shown children who regularly play music, sing and dance together in groups have an improved capacity to empathize with others.

5.)  Music helps imagination and creativity

Creative play, including music, is crucial for a toddler’s development. It helps them develop emotionally, physically, mentally and socially. Music is a key form of self-expression for little ones. After all, how often have you caught a child deep in thought singing to themselves? The answer is likely often.

One study reveals listening to happy music promotes more divergent thinking, which is a key component of creativity.

When you incorporate music into the classroom, children have the opportunity to create, discover, experiment and experience – all key elements of imagination and creativity.

6.)  It improves language and literacy skills

Singing songs and nursery rhymes to your kiddos on a regular basis is guaranteed to improve their language and communication skills.

By incorporating music into your curriculum, it’s the perfect way to introduce new words to children, which ultimately helps every area of their literacy development – letter knowledge, vocabulary, phonological awareness and more.

7. )  Music promotes teamwork

Whether it’s a couple children playing as a duo, a small ensemble of kiddos or the entire classroom, playing music together is a wonderful way to promote teamwork and collaboration.

As students interact with each other through music, they observe their classmates and begin to understand nonverbal communication. They’re also introduced to how they fit into the bigger scheme of things. And while they might not completely comprehend or understand at the time, it’s a great introduction to working collaboratively.

So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already, make sure you include activities in your curriculum that get your kids humming, clapping, singing and playing instruments.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate these sorts of activities into your lesson plans, think about signing up for ChildCare Education Institute’s online course Music in Early Childhood.

This one-hour course was written by Rae Pica, one of the pre-eminent minds in early childhood education, and provides an understanding of the importance of music in the early childhood years and the ways in which it can become part of your curriculum. The course covers the role of music in development, the impact of music on behavior, the musical elements young children can and should experience and an extensive list of appropriate musical activities.

And, while you’re at it, check out our 150+ other courses that cover everything from health, safety and nutrition to diversity and inclusion, and everything in between.