Music Education for Infants

We've all heard the benefits of music education for children--academic achievement, memory, discipline, confidence, stress relief, etc.  I don't think there is anyone who argues these benefits.  There is even research to indicate that simply listening to certain types of music can help children relax and organize their thoughts.

While previous research has demonstrated a positive impact of music education on children preschool age and above, there has not been much study on infants.  Recent research from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, examined the effect of music instruction on infants.  They provided two types of classes for parents and their infants aged 6 months to 12 months.  One class was passive, in which "Baby Einstein" cd's were played while the infants participated in various play activities; art, blocks, books, balls, and stacking cups.  Parents were given a different "Baby Einstein" cd each week to play at home for their infants.  The second class was active, in which the parents and their infants were engaged in movement activities, singing, and playing percussion instruments.  The participants were encouraged to learn a variety of lullabies and action songs.  Parents were given a cd containing songs learned in the class and asked to play it for their infants at home.

At the end of the 6 months of weekly training, the infants in the active classes showed earlier and more advanced brain responses than the infants in the passive classes showed.  Additionally, the infants in the active class demonstrated advanced social development including less distress, more smiling and laughing, and easier soothability.

Keep those music and movement activities coming.  Not only are they fun, but they help develop those children's brains!

Trainor, L. J., Marie, C., Gerry, D., Whiskin, E., & Unrau, A. (2012). Becoming musically enculturated: Effects of music classes for infants on brain and behavior. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1252,129-138. http://www.psychology.mcmaster.ca/ljt/publications.htm

Misty