Pablo Picasso famously said that “Every child is an artist, the problem is to keep them that way when they grow up.” In his key note speech David Hargreaves (Applied Music Research Centre, Roehampton University London) covered several positive effects of music on children’s development.
“There is learning in music and learning through music”, Hargreaves said. In a way all people are musicians, since we all have a certain level of musical skills, if only in the way we use our voice to communicate.
There is also musicality in the way in which the caregiver and child communicate which each other. Hargreaves: “There is spontaneous rhythm in adult-child socialization. Infants dance and move spontaneously in response to music and they are quite sensitive to rhythm changes and melodies for instance.”
From the perspective of brain imaging, there is proof that music involves many different parts of the brain: auditory, visual and kinesthetic parts. Another asset of early childhood musical education is that it promotes language ability throughout the life span. Different studies pointed at the effects of music cognitive and social skills. “A famous study by Glenn Schellenberg looked at 144 6-year olds, dividing them in four groups with different activities. The two groups that made music improved their IQ with 7 points”, Hargreaves said.
Not without a bachelor degree
Another interesting topic that was raised, was the system of musical playschools that is well established everywhere in the country. A large part of pre-school Fins go to musiikkileikkikoulu, where they are thought by music educators with at least a bachelor degree.
Laura Huhtinen-Hildén is senior lecturer in music education at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki. According to her this system of pre-school music education is unique in the world. “Even in small villages you will find the musiikkileikkikoulu.”
Hargreaves thinks that this might account for the high PISA-scores of Finland. “At least it is a very interesting area to look into.”