How Music Together® Classes Can Help Your Child: 10 Things To Know

1. Bring Your Family Together Through Music

From Music Together Summit Director, David Palomo:

I came to Music Together from a counseling background. Changing direction to teaching Music Together was a “no brainer”—I was blown away by what I saw in the demo classes during my Music Together training: I saw young children engaged in their verbal skills at their individual level of development; I saw them also engaged in their motor skills at their individual level of development. Most of all, I saw them engaged emotionally at their individual level of development. Not only were they engaged in positive emotions from the unique evocative quality of music, they were also engaged in a positive emotional experience with their parents in doing music together. I knew from counseling experience that if a family has a strong emotional foundation they can handle just about anything life throws at them.

So not only was I seeing music support a child’s verbal and motor development, I was seeing music support the child’s emotional development and the development of emotional ties within the family. What a great way to help support building strong families!

2. Bring Your Family Together Through Music, part 2

Here’s some research about how music brings us together. We know music has been used in parades and celebrations. Think of the shared emotional experience at a concert when everyone fires up a lighter. Recent research shows that repetition is a key element in music, one that both pulls us into the experience and pulls us together as people.”

Read more about it here:

3. Our Philosophy at Music Together Summit: Music Learning Supports All Learning®, part 1

Musician/music producer-turned neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitan has written a book called “This Is Your Brain On Music.” As a producer he wondered what made one song a hit and another song a bomb even though the musical competence was high. This led him to neuroscience. One of things he discovered from neuroscience is that musical function is distributed throughout the brain. That is, brain research showed him that if someone suffers a brain injury in the area of the brain that handles language, they lose their language ability. But with music distributed in several areas of the brain, you can have a brain injury in one area of the brain and retain your musical ability. This suggests that when your child is doing music, they’re exercising and developing several areas of their brain at once. How cool is that?

4. Our Philosophy at Music Together Summit: Music Learning Supports All Learning, part 2

In the Music Together community worldwide, we keep hearing stories of how music learning supports all learning. Many parents new to Music Together are surprised to see their toddler (or almost toddler!) spontaneously joining the class in tapping our knees as we sit and sing.

Here’s a study of first through third graders showing “that those simple sing-a-longs [with hand clapping] help a child's motor and cognitive development.” If this is having such an impact on first graders, imagine how big an impact the spontaneous knee tapping we see in Music Together can have on your child’

Here’s the study:

5. Speaking of cognitive and developmental gains

One of the research studies we share with families in our classes at Music Together Summit is a study done of Music Together parent-child classes in Bridgeport CT. This study is notable because it was conducted independently by the Michael Cohen Group, an educational research company in New York city. The study was undertaken for the Bridgeport community action agency to help them assess the value of Music Together in the early learning initiative program in that community.

What this independent study found:

  • · The majority of two year olds’ standardized test scores ranked at or above
    • 60 percentile on receptive and expressive language skills
    • 68 percentile on interpersonal and coping skills
  • · Almost all three year olds’ standardized test scores ranked at or above
    • 90 percentile on receptive and expressive language skills
    • 80 percentile on interpersonal and coping skills

6. Music Learning Supporting Learning And Brain Development

From Music Together Summit director David Palomo: The problem with a lot of the research into children and music is that the pedagogical approach appropriate to elementary age children is emphasized. Sometimes it’s even misapplied to early childhood music studies. I have found that early childhood music involves a developmental approach. These children have not yet developed the language and cognitive skills of the elementary age student.

A case in point is the study I’m citing here. Although the study was done with preschool students, the study was pedagogical and not developmental in its focus. Nonetheless, we can, with caution, see how it applies to the experience our families have with Music Together.

The study refers to children who were given “musical training.” I would point out that Music Together takes a developmental approach that gives young children a developmentally appropriate musical experience whereby they can internalize and then physicalize the basics of tone and rhythm. Keeping in mind that Music Together uses this developmental approach that fits the learning styles of young children (rather than a music “training” approach more appropriate to elementary age children), we can infer that the gains found in this study (which focuses on music training) would apply as well to children in Music Together classes.

The study found that “even a year or two of music training leads to enhanced levels of memory and attention when measured by the same type of tests that monitor electrical and magnetic impulses in the brain.”

“We therefore hypothesize,” write the study’s authors, “that musical training (but not necessarily passive listening to music) affects attention and memory, which provides a mechanism whereby musical training might lead to better learning across a number of domains."

They say, “musical training might lead to better learning across a number of domanins.” In Music Together we put it this way: Music learning supports all learning.

Here’s the study:

7. Music Together And Speech Development: One Parent’s Experience

Several parents at Music Together Summit have shared with us how Music Together classes have helped their child with issues of speech delay. As one parent commented: Ellie loves music class and the songs are a part of life every day for us! If you can believe it, Ellie did not speak a word until the beginning of 2013 when she was 2 years and 8 months old....this is about the time she started music class. I swear to my husband that this is a big part of what brought her out of her shell!!

Find out what other Music Together Summit parents are saying:

8. Music Can Help Your Child’s Behavioral Development

According to a recent study, “making music can improve both pro-social behaviour (voluntary behaviour intended to benefit another) and the problem solving skills of young children.” The study found that “music improved helpfulness for both girls and boys with children in the 'Music' group over thirty times more likely to help than those in the 'No Music' group.

Here’s a summary of the study:

9. From Our Own Miss Becca: Using Music With Special Needs Children

(Becca Moskovitz is one of our teachers at Music Together Summit. In addition to being a Music Together parent, she is also a speech and language pathologist in Hudson public schools. When she began teaching at Music Together Summit in the fall of 2013, she also began using her Music Together training in her work. Here’s what she found.)

As the speech and language pathologist working with children with multiple special needs, I am running a music group this year, based on the Music Together program. After our first group today, I was thrilled and hopeful this will be a very positive experience for my students. In just one class, we witnessed a boy with extreme muscle weakness independently use both arms to imitate motions (something he struggles to do on a daily basis). We watched a boy with autism imitate stick rhythms and remain engaged for 25 minutes of focused activities. And we sat for 30 minutes with a boy who typically exhibits aggressive behaviors, sit side by side with peers, participating in call-response songs. We addressed social communication goals, fine motor skills, and receptive language skills in one single session. I'm anxious to see what the rest of our year holds as we continue to make music together!

10. The benefits of using music with special needs children—some research

What Becca found in her work in Hudson Public schools is beginning to find support in ongoing research. Here’s one recent report on research that supports the idea that children with autism can benefit from music: