Whole Child Development
Learning music is unlike learning anything else. This is because making music involves multiple components of the central and peripheral nervous systems including those associated with gross and fine motor skills, emotions, memory, intellect, paying attention, processing expectations and rules, relationships, creativity and cultural values. Making music is ‘superfood’ for a child’s developing brain.
Participating in musical activities is different from practising other activities because musicians – even very young ones – are constantly learning and making new music, thereby stimulating the entire brain. Applying, practising and seeking to improve a learned skill – such as a physical skill – does not have the same affect. Musicians continue to learn, and that learning stimulates ongoing development of the entire brain.
Learning music promotes whole child development as it helps children develop speech and vocabulary, listening skills, motor skills, social skills and cognitive skills. Because neural activity is at its highest and fastest before the age of 6, babies and toddlers who actively learn music are in a much better position to achieve their learning and development milestones.
Music education also unleashes a child’s creative powers.
“Taking toddlers to a well-structured, high quality music class each week will build the musical skills that have been found to be so effective in learning to read. It is vital to look for classes that include movement activities, singing, and responding to both sound and silence. They should use good quality music-making toys and instruments.” – Dr Anita Collins, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Canberra and Dr Misty Adoniou, Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra in an article called “Learning music early can make your child a better reader” first published in The Conversation November 8, 2018. Read the full article here.
Watch ABC FM Breakfast host Russell Torrance interview Dr Anita Collins about the link between learning music and brain development especially in the areas of language development, executive function (nurturing confident learners) and learning social skills as well as what to do and not to do when your child brings home their first instrument, all in the context of the 2018 ABC TV program “Don’t Stop the Music” here.
Mini Maestros is a structured program and it is this structure that creates a safe platform from which learning can occur through creative exploration into discovery. Mini Maestros aims to give children experiences which will:
- aid their physical development through activities which encourage development of gross and fine motor skills and coordination and relaxation techniques. Each lesson contains many opportunities for children to practise various gross motor skills such as jumping or hopping. Fine motor skills are practised through the use of finger plays with younger children and the playing of percussion instruments with the older children. Children are able to practise the skills introduced at their own level but they have the group support, which encourages them to strive for achievement in all skill areas.
- enhance their emotional development through activities which require emotional expression, role playing, dramatization sharing taking turns and allow children to feel emotional satisfaction through fun, play, wellbeing and achievement in musical activities.
- encourage their intellectual development through activities which will help children develop an understanding of music being a combination of these elements: beat, pitch, dynamics, harmony, melody, rhythm, tempo, tone colour, and form.
- allow them to experience group participation and thereby develop self-control, discipline and the skills of sharing and taking turns. Group participation also provides opportunities where children can experience feelings of success which assists the developing a child’s self-confidence.
- provide opportunities for the creative participation of each child by encouraging children to make musical decisions (e.g. which instrument would be the best to accompany this lullaby?) and to contribute and share ideas in simple and fun improvisation activities.
- relate to their present cultural heritage and future experiences.