A few thoughts on music and education

Photo of Hugh Hanley singing with guitar. We all possess an innate ability to make music, an ability which can and should be nurtured in our early years. This nurturing can start in infancy (perhaps even prenatally) with an exposure to rhythmic speech and movement, as well as to simple, pleasant sounds and melody.

As children develop, so does their competence as music makers. They can originate or maintain rhythmic patterns with body movements or percussion instruments, recognize and repeat simple tunes, and integrate the rhythmic, tonal and content elements of language and music. Proper modeling and early exposure to an active, participatory musical experience can help children establish a foundation of expressive, receptive and creative music skills that a child can build upon throughout life. The development of these music skills also assists and enhances a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Children in our culture are generally not lacking in their exposure to music. Video and audio media have made music easily accessible in our daily lives. The down side of this, however, is that children and their adult models tend to absorb music passively rather than taking an active part in making music. It is my strong belief, one that is supported by current brain research as well as folk traditions of every culture, that children benefit from a developmentally appropriate, active, play-oriented music experience. I also believe that it is important for us teachers and parents to model such an experience for children to the best of our ability.
Hugh's autograph