Music & Life

How does music benefit your child? Does music make a difference in the school or medical environment? What are some simple ways that you can add music to every day life?

While the “Mozart Effect” has been debunked by the majority of current research, impressive mounting evidence positively indicates that music, and specifically musical training, has positive effects on almost all areas of child development:

  • A Brown University Study in 2006 indicated that music lessons in young children using the Suzuki method increases literacy and memory, as well as enhancing mathematical skills[1]. The Suzuki method, developed in Japan, teaches children as young as two or three how to play Western instruments using only their ears. By comparison, in the West children generally learn how to play instruments by reading music. Find out more from the International Suzuki Association.
  • Music gives children freedom in self-expression and imagination and helps children socialize. Groups of children often use music as part of their dramatic play and interaction[2].
  • Researchers from the University of Hong Kong discovered school age students learning classical music instruments showed a marked increase in verbal memory[3].
  • Music and rhythm games accompanied by movement increase balance and agility. These same games improve a child’s concept of rhythm and the beat.[2]
  • Vocal and piano lessons in childhood have been linked to increased long term intellectual ability, possibly because of the memorization and concentration needed[4].
  • Music increases a child’s ability to understand the nuances of language[5].
    (See previous Music & Life article “The Secret Language Connection” for more information)

Now that you understand how music helps children develop in a variety of ways, here are a few practical ways to add music to your home or classroom:

1. Add music to every day activities

Find songs to sing with your children at Songs For TeachingFind songs to sing with your children at Sing Up

Sing a song when your child wakes up in the morning, at lunchtime, during toy clean-up, or before nap time. Regardless of age, your child will associate the song with the activity. He or she can learn the song just by repetition. For great songs for any occasion, check out Songs for Teaching or Sing Up. These music education websites have songs for all ages and cover subject areas like science, math, and social studies!

2. Encourage an interest in music

You don’t have to be Beethoven yourself to enjoy music with your child. Attend kid friendly concerts together, include age-appropriate instruments among their toys, or encourage a musician friend to give your young child short music lessons. Sign your older child up for regular music lessons, or enjoy live music locally by going to a community orchestra concert, the high school musical, or even an outdoor jazz jam.

3. Keyboard Tots and Kids Xylophone

Set your kids loose on this colorful xylophone iPhone app!
Keyboard Tots has a fun interactive keyboard for your iPhone which teaches them basic piano and notes.

Kids Xylophone is a free app with a cool and colorful xylophone interface which kids love.

4. Make music together

Create music with Apple’s Garageband – or music making websites like legendary composer Morton Subostnick’s

5. Join a parent/child music class

Many museums, schools, and community centers offer parent/child music classes. Check out Gymboree Play & Music or Amanda Fun, Fitness, and Music, which have fun music classes for ages 0-5 years.

Do ear training with virtual instruments online

6. Virtual Instruments

The internet has many exciting and fun virtual instruments for kids to play. includes great links to virtual drums, guitars, and pianos. Have a great time jamming with your kids!

7. Beat Wave and Soundrop

Colorful squares help you create music in the iPhone’s Beatwave app. Make sounds and music just by drawing in the fun app “Soundrop”. You and your child can enjoy making all types of zany sounds. You can even change up the sounds by tweaking gravity and bounce! No musical skills whatsoever required for this one.

8. Music Catch

Just like it sounds, the online game Music Catch developed by Reflexive Entertainment lets you make music by catching simple shapes. Check it out!
Play fun music games with your children and develop their aural skills

How do you incorporate music in your home or classroom? What exciting music games have you discovered? We would love to hear your thoughts! Share with us in the comments below.

Show article sources


  1. (2006). …music lessons may enhance cognitive development. Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, 22(11), 2. Retrieved from Professional Development Collection database.
  2. Netherwood, C. (2007). Music to your ears. Australian Parents, 64.
  3. Ho, Y., Cheung, M., & Chan, A. (2003). Music training improves verbal but not visual memory: Cross-sectional and longitudinal explorations in children. Neuropsychology, 17(3), 439-450. doi:10.1037/0894-4105.17.3.439.
  4. Schellenberg, E. (2005). Music and Cognitive Abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell), 14(6), 317-320. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00389.x.
  5. Legg, R. (2009). Using music to accelerate language learning: an experimental study. Research in Education, (82), 1-12. Retrieved from Professional Development Collection database.

Further reading:

  • Gross, W., Linden, U., & Ostermann, T. (2010). Effects of music therapy in the treatment of children with delayed speech development – results of a pilot study. BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine, 1039. Retrieved from MEDLINE with Full Text database.
  • Masataka, N. (2007). Music, evolution and language. Developmental Science, 10(1), 35-39. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00561.x.
  • Zell, R. (1999). Reading Improvement Through Music, Movement, and Play (RITMMAP): A Crossover Study by Ron Zell and Dr. Jason Zell. Joyful Note . Retrieved from
  • Riforgiate, T. (2010). The Influence of Music on the Development of Children. Cal Poly. Retrieved from