Music, Brain Development, and Literacy

Most people, me included love music. But did you know about the many benefits it has for human development? 

In this issue, I have the privilege of hosting an article from Charles Carpenter, composer for film. I grew up with a decade of piano lessons (involuntarily like many Asian LOL) and though I didn't enjoy much of it, I've definitely been blessed by music's power. Read on to enjoy Charles' insights!

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Photo Credit: Unsplash


How Music Accelerates Brain Development

and Helps Children Excel in Literacy

Charles Carpenter


Music is often seen as a fun, extracurricular activity for students to enjoy as they take a break from the more serious subjects in school. It can also be used to soothe children, express emotions, and improve social skills. However, music is much more than that. In fact, it can actually accelerate brain development and help children thrive in literacy. Whether you’re a parent or educator, read on to find out how. 


Playing an Instrument


If you’re interested in getting your kid involved in musical training, it’s important to consider their personality and interests when deciding on an instrument. That said, if you’re not sure whether they’ll stick with their lessons, you may want to bypass purchasing an instrument and consider investing in a kid-friendly laptop instead. A plethora of online music programs and apps make it possible for your child to get musical training right from their computer. However, be sure to check out laptop reviews before you make a decision.




Both music lessons and listening to music can improve a child’s listening skills. Though hearing may be an innate quality, listening is not. In order to listen effectively, kids must be able to maintain their attention and process the information they hear. Music at all levels revolves around listening, which means children who play or listen to the various melodies, rhythms, and dynamics of a song are expanding their attention span and developing their listening ability. 


Moreover, playing a musical instrument as a child can have long-lasting benefits that stretch well into adulthood, such as better auditory attention and hearing speech in noise, better ability to identify emotions in speech, and better ability to process sounds as they age. 




Music also helps children develop phonological awareness. This means that they can effectively recognize sounds in a spoken language and work with them to understand words. That’s why phonological awareness is the basis of learning to read. Through development, it will ideally lead to the ability to associate sounds with symbols, pair the symbols with letters, and link the letters to words. The brain processes the musical notes and tones in a song similar to how it processes the sounds and symbols of language, which is why playing and listening to music can be so beneficial for a child’s phonological awareness. 




Learning music is also one of the most effective ways to expand a child’s vocabulary because kids tend to repeat the words of songs over and over again. The importance of vocabulary for success in this life cannot be overstated. When a child is learning to read, they’re learning to comprehend each word so that they can comprehend a sentence, a paragraph, a book, and so on. The ultimate goal is for the child to lay a foundation to build upon so that they can keep developing their vocabulary for years to come and expand their comprehension of the world they live in. Also, the more words a person knows, the better they can listen, speak, read, and write, and it can enhance that person’s competence and confidence in all areas of life. 




Arguably the most beneficial component of music for children and literacy is how it can boost confidence. Lack of confidence hinders many kids from efficiently learning how to read. This is especially true in a class or group setting. Stumbling across just one unfamiliar symbol or word can be enough to shut down a child’s self-esteem when their peers are staring at them. Learning how to play an instrument builds confidence that can carry over to learning to read and write. It provides an outlet for creativity and expression, and helps children grow more comfortable with performing in front of others. 


Music is fun, and lots of people enjoy listening to and playing it. However, don’t underestimate the power music can have on your child’s life and education. Encourage your child to get involved in music, whether it’s learning how to compose or simply playing an instrument!


I hope you'll continually make music a source of enrichment in your family's life and that it'll strengthen and beautify your soul to connect with all that's meaningful.