How Music Supports Literacy

Children respond to music. Everyone responds to music!
Children respond to music. Everyone responds to music! | Source

Music is just fun

Young Children Learn Best Through Their Senses. Music provides learning through auditory, visual and kinesthetic sources. Music and movement can be used to demonstrate and integrate rhythm, timing, a sense of self and math concepts.

Music and movement is entertaining and gets student's attention, enhances children's ability to learn. It is a well-known fact that children learn when they are cognitively, socially, physically, and emotionally engaged. Music does just that.

In order to sing, you need to breathe deeply. That extra oxygen from breathing deeply helps awaken the brain and provides extra oxygen to your body. Moving your body makes you feel better because when you move your body, more blood flows to all the parts of your body.

And, if you hadn't noticed, we feel better when we sing and dance, because music is FUN!

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An example of Rebus song
An example of Rebus song | Source
This is a fun display and a rebus song. Children & teachers can sing it any time.
This is a fun display and a rebus song. Children & teachers can sing it any time. | Source

Develop Literacy Skills

Listening

Literacy development is intimately linked to speaking and listening and they are mutually reinforcing. These skills can best be developed through positive interactions with trusted adults. Music enhances and sets the stage for positive interactions, as well as providing an optimal learning strategy for young children.

Listening to the beat, the rhythm, the words, and the pronunciation all require listening in a big way. Following directions also requires the child to listen. Music helps children respond to simple and multi-step directions. Music also helps children respond to oral communication.

Vocabulary building

Children learn new vocabulary when they learn new songs. They learn by singing the alphabet and marching while singing, clapping and tapping while singing. These activities helps children segment new words into their proper syllables without the work of doing it.

Phonemic awareness

A Phoneme is the smallest distinct, perceptual unit of sound in any specific language. Phonemes help us distinguish one word from another. The words pad, tad, pat, and bat would all sound the same without their distinct phonemes.

For LL2 (second Language Learners) students, phonemic awareness helps them become fluent. Music helps these students remember the words more easily, learn the cadence and syntax of the new language, and provides a context for the new vocabulary.




When we sing and use an instrument, children respond well.
When we sing and use an instrument, children respond well. | Source
Ron G. is joining the children - essentially giving them permission to dance.
Ron G. is joining the children - essentially giving them permission to dance. | Source
Using sheet music, and mic in addition to your instrument shows children that we can use props to help us create the music.
Using sheet music, and mic in addition to your instrument shows children that we can use props to help us create the music. | Source

FAQ about music & Literacy

What role does the ear play in literacy acquisition?

The ear plays a central role in children's development of music and of language. The task of language learners is to discriminate among the many sounds they hear and make meaning from them. Hearing, then becomes attuned to the cadences, melodies and rhythms of language. Music accentuates the rhythms of the specific language being sung. Distinguishing sounds is fundamentally important to learning any language. Use a tape of sounds or music, but put it on very low. Or don’t have anything on, and listen for the noise your building/home makes.

When students are involved in music, more parts of their brain are being activated than with almost anything else. Using music as a teaching aid enables functions of the right and left hemispheres of the brain to make connections that make language learning quick and easy.

How does music enhance cognition?

Music helps us remember events.

Music triggers us to re-experience particular moments.

Music sounds hold students’ attention.

Music can lead students into alpha brain wave state (perfect learning state for taking in information).

Music increases sensory input (the more senses we use, the greater our learning & understanding).

How does music help children with group skills?

Music helps students practice and learn the give-and-take of social interaction and the reciprocity of communication. It provides practice in turn-taking, listening for an opening to speak or sing, and paying attention to the leader.



Children learn group rules, learn to pay attention to the speaker and to wait their turn in circle times.
Children learn group rules, learn to pay attention to the speaker and to wait their turn in circle times. | Source

Music Builds Cognitive Skills

Singing is good for the brain because it makes us feel good.

When we enjoy ourselves or laugh our bodies release endorphins, which help us remember what we are learning.

When we sing or exercise (such as dancing) we take in more oxygen that increases our alertness.

Using finger muscles while singing also helps boost our memory because the finger muscles are associated with memory.

Singing, feeling happy and laughing are ways to increase our ability to remember information.

From: “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” by Pam Schiller & Thomas Moore. Gryphon House, Inc., 2004.

When we add the fun of singing, reading stories and dancing, the educational stage, it is set for real learning to take place.

Dancing releases endorphins to make us happy.
Dancing releases endorphins to make us happy. | Source

Physiological Changes from Music

Music makes changes in our brains because it makes connections between left & right hemispheres in the brain..

Music increases our heart rate and respiration.

Music helps us remember events and triggers us to re-experience particular moments.

Musical sounds hold students’ attention and can lead students into alpha brain wave state (perfect learning state for taking in information)

Music increases sensory input (the more senses we use, the greater our learning & understanding).

Author with the Teddy Bear Band at the Mall of America, 2013.
Author with the Teddy Bear Band at the Mall of America, 2013. | Source

A Great Resources for Music That Enhances Literacy

If you are interested in what this hub has to discuss, check out the Teddy Bear Band CD "Sing, Play and Move with the Teddy Bear Band" Early Learning Songs with "Teacher Ron" of TBB. It is available through Richard Alan Productions, richard@teddybearband.com or go to their website at www.teddybearband.com

These guys rock the house and really just have fun with children. They have been going for more than 25 years, and continue to entertain folks young and old.

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