Academic journal article Education

The Effect of Mozart's Music on Child Development in a Jordanian Kindergarten

Academic journal article Education

The Effect of Mozart's Music on Child Development in a Jordanian Kindergarten

Article excerpt

Introduction

Young children begin to show a preference for the music of their own culture by the age of two (Levitin, 2006). The early childhood years are crucial to musical growth, as, between the ages of four and six, we experience a heightened sensitivity to sound and pitch (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).

Early exposure to music is especially essential during the critical period for brain development. This critical period takes place during the preschool and beginning elementary years (Beaty, 2000).

Music is an excellent tool for teaching the first few simple steps of growing up. Howard Gardner listed music as one of the seven basic intelligences built into our genetic system, following Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget who recognized music as an innate intelligence ready to unfold between the third and fourth year of life (Campbell, 2002).

There are many reasons for including music in the curriculum. Firstly, music draws the children into creative activities in the early childhood classroom when the adult carefully prepares the environment with appropriate materials and encourages musical experiences (Henniger, 2002). Furthermore, music can become an important part of any educational setting. It provides a welcoming atmosphere as students enter, offers a calming effect after periods of physical activity, soothes classroom transactions, and reduces stress that commonly accompanies examinations or other academic pressures (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).

Jalongo (1996) notes that children respond to different types of music through different types of vocalization and body movement. She also points out that early childhood educators and children who are non-musicians can make and understand music.

Several ancient philosophers included music as an important part of education. An extensive compendium of arts education research studies called "Critical Links" was released in 2002 and showed that musical instruction develops spatial reasoning and the spatial-temporal skills of understanding and using mathematical ideas and concepts (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).

Likewise, it was proposed that music may serve as a pre-language, with centres distinct from language centres in the cortex, available at an early age, which can access the inherent cortical spatial-temporal firing patterns and enhance the ability to perform spatial-temporal reasoning (Leng & Shaw, 1991).

Research shows that music should be an essential part of early childhood experience. "It's fun, creative, and it's a proven way to develop areas of the brain for later academic tasks", said Elizabeth Stilwell, director of the Early Childhood Center (Lang, 1999). Many, if not most, children and adults enjoy rhythm and melody and like to listen to and participate in musical activities, and they enjoy learning through musical methods or appreciate music in the classroom as they work on nonverbal tasks (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 2004).

Previous Studies

There has been a number of studies investigating the effects of music on children's cognitive and social skills. For example, first-graders who participated in Kodaly music appreciation and movement five days per week, forty minutes per day, for seven months, scored significantly higher on standard reading tests than a non-musical group (Campbell, 2002).

Duffy and Fuller (2000) investigated the effectiveness of a music therapy programme on the enhancement of the social skills of children with moderate intellectual disability. Thirty-two children, aged five to ten years, from four intellectual disability centres, participated. At each centre, four children were randomly selected to participate in the music therapy program. Five social skills were targeted for intervention: turn-taking, imitation, vocalization, initiation and eye contact. Measures of effectiveness involved comparison of pre- and post-intervention scores on five target skills using a brief social skills test specifically designed for this study. …

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