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Music and Movement: Is It Really That Important?

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 3/2/2012

Music and movement classes have come into vogue in recent years, but are they truly that important to child development? Learn a little bit about the importance of music and movement to the development of young children.

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    Is music really that important to preschool development? The truth might surprise you. Read on to find out what research shows about the connection between music and movement classes and brain function in preschool children. I found it to be really quite interesting.

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    The Importance of Music

    CAT scans have shown that different aspects of music activate different parts of the brain. In fact, half of the brain processes the words of the song while the other half processes the music. Listening to music and playing music games, therefore, helps children to use the various parts of their brains simultaneously. Music also stimulates a child’s frontal lobes, which are important to both language and motor development.

    Music is used as a memory aid for many older students because it takes several discrete pieces of information and combines them into one larger piece of information – a song. Processing that one piece of information is much easier than processing a long list. Therefore, music is an important aspect of learning. Music and movement classes develop the innate understanding of music in children, which enables them to tap into this aspect of music later on in life.

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    The Importance of Movement

    Just like music, movement and rhythm exercises stimulate the brain which reinforces language concepts. The frontal lobes of the brain go through to main growth spurts – one between the ages of two and six, and one at about age twenty-two. Therefore, music and movement classes are most beneficial during the toddler and preschool years.

    Movement causes the brain to produce endorphins, chemicals that increase both the child’s energy levels and her ability to learn. Movement also sends oxygen to the brain, which aids in the thought process.

    Music and movement activities that include cross lateral movement are especially important to brain development. Cross lateral movement includes any movement in which the arms or legs cross the midsection of the body. This can be achieved by dancing with scarves or swaying like a tree, both common in music and movement activities. Cross lateral movement enables both sides of the brain to work together, which is important in strengthening brain connections.

    The importance of music and movement in a preschool classroom cannot be underestimated. Incorporating the two skills can prepare children’s minds for learning throughout their school years.