Getting an Early Start - Music in the Womb
The amazing effect music has on the mind starts even before birth. Recent studies have shown that children exposed to classical music in the womb exhibit a positive change in physical and mental development after birth. In a recent experiment, fetuses were exposed to 70 hours of classical music during the last weeks of pregnancy. At six months, these babies were more advanced in terms of motor skills and linguistic and intellectual development than babies who received no musical stimulus. Babies are born with 100 billion loosely connected nerve cells in their bodies - various cognitive and mental experiences help establish and strengthen the inter-cellular connections in the brain. Scientists now believe that listening to music is a key “brain-building” experience.
The Effect Music has on Development
The positive effect music has on babies and children is surprisingly diverse, encouraging babies' development in both the mental and physical spheres. Playing music to your baby can activate the neural pathways responsible for many skills, boosting general skills such as creativity or more specific skills like spatial intelligence:
Creativity - A study conducted in Hungary found that 3-4-year-olds who were given music and signing lessons obtained higher grades in creativity than children of the same age who did not receive any musical training.
Memory - Three-month-old babies can use music to help them remember things they have learned. Scientists now believe that music gives significance to the learning process and helps remember it.
Spatial Intelligence - Spatial intelligence is the ability to perceive various relationships in space and understand the visual world. A study of kindergarten children in California showed that children who were given piano lessons had a 34% better success rate in completing a jigsaw puzzle than children who were given computer lessons at the same time.
Mathematics - A study found that 4-5 year old children who had been given intensive musical instruction demonstrated considerably more progress in mathematics than classmates who had received a standard musical education. Scientists believe that the connection between music and mathematics is partly related to the fact that music helps children understand mathematical concepts
Language - There is a close connection between music and linguistic development. Both skills require the ability to differentiate between auditory nuances and similar sounds, such as "B" and "P”. Listening to music contributes greatly to babies’ development of this skill and will develop the ability to decode auditory data and sharpen your child’s auditory memory - abilities which are fundamental to language comprehension.
Emotional Intelligence - Music can bring on strong emotions. By listening to expressive classical music, babies hone their ability to detect moods and emotions in others, while developing awareness of their own inner processes through the nuances of feelings evoked by the music.