Start Your Child’s Life on the Right Note with Music Therapy

Learn How Music Therapy Enriches Early Childhood Development

You may have heard of the Mozart Effect before (playing classical music for young children in order to make them smarter). You may have also wondered -- is this fact or fiction? Well, while science doesn’t exactly prove that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has anything to do with your child’s intelligence, it does tell us that music therapy aids in early childhood development.

Research shows that implementing music therapy early on in a child’s life can improve their cognitive performance, confidence, and even strengthen parent-child relationships.

In this post, we will discuss:

  • What is music therapy?
  • How music therapy benefits childhood development
  • Music activities for the family.

What is Music Therapy?

Formally, the American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as, “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

Simply put, it is the use of music and musical activities in a therapeutic setting, with a trained music therapist, in order to better oneself -- whether it be physically or mentally.

Music Therapy for Children

When working with young children, music therapists take into account the individualized needs of the child, as well as their family. A therapist will design personal programs, monitor progress, evaluate, and provide feedback in relation to the child’s goals.

Music therapy programs may include singing songs, instrument play, movement, and music listening in order to encourage musical, social, physical, and emotional growth.

A little boy in overalls plays a drum excitedly.
Music therapy is offered at many schools and child development centers. Image courtesy of Language, Music, and More.

Benefits of Music Therapy in Children

Music is a great tool for expanding young minds. With music therapy, your child will grow in ways you may have never imagined.

The following remark is from the father of a five-year-old (diagnosed with ADHD) who has been in attendance of music therapy sessions for over a year:

“Music therapy has helped my son to increase his concentration and attending. His eye contact has increased since participating in music therapy. Moreover, I believe that in part his increased use of language may be attributed to attending music therapy. Finally, he has developed an interest in music.” --

Five children sit attentively while playing musical instruments.
Group therapy offers children a chance to practice social skills like sharing. Image courtesy of SOAR.

Music Increases Communication Skills

Music has been proven to stimulate cognitive functioning and speech/language skills. This is because the brain processes music in both the left and right hemispheres (the left hemisphere is where we find language abilities), strengthening our creative abilities as well as technical.

A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that children who took two years of music lessons improved in musicality, but they also became more skilled in language processing.

The study, called the Harmony Project, claimed that the afterschool music program was credited for the children’s 93% graduation rate as opposed to the 50% rate in surrounding areas.

Music Strengthens Bonds

Music triggers parts of the brain responsible for motivation and emotion, making it extremely effective in creating bonds between group members. Children often feel uncomfortable joining activities or are shy in new situations -- but with music therapy, they have a safe space where they can participate in sharing music and ideas.

Three children in brightly colored outfits stand together and smile.
Music can also strengthen bonds in the classroom. Image courtesy of ADDitude.

Music Helps with Memorization

Have you ever wondered why we sing our ABCs? Songs tend to get stuck in our heads -- especially those annoying jingles -- and actually work as tools for memorization. In early childhood development, this helps the brain prepare for literacy training and the memorization of information for the long-run.

Music Sparks Confidence

It is a music therapist’s job to set children up for success. When a child is down about failing in another aspect of life, they can always know that music is something they will succeed in. This drives confidence and pushes children to believe in themselves -- allowing personality development.

Music Aids in Expression

Often, children are unable to express themselves in a calm way. In early childhood development, actions speak louder than words -- crying, pouting, or throwing a tantrum.

Music therapy gives your child the opportunity to express frustration, happiness, or sadness in a safe and comforting environment. What they might not be able to say in words, they can convey through banging the drums, playing the xylophone, or singing a song.

Two little girls in pink shirts play the xylophone passionately.
Music allows for a non-threatening emotional release. Image courtesy of

Music Increases Motor Skills

In order to play an instrument, you have to have some level of gross and fine motor skills -- something that can be taught by repentance. Through music therapy, a child is given this chance within a therapeutic environment. Practicing with different instruments also requires using a variety of muscles that a child might not use every day, further developing them.

Music Therapy and the Family

If your child does not require or wish to partake in clinical treatment, it is beneficial for parents to use different musical techniques at home. Note, this cannot be considered a form of music therapy, but can still help your child in some ways. Using these tips  and activities (provided by will enhance any child’s development of cognitive, emotional, and physical abilities:

  • Provide instruments such as egg shakers, maracas, and bells.
  • Help young children move their bodies when listening to music.
  • Make associations between songs and activities, such as “Clean Up.”
  • Use well-known songs to work on vocabulary and memory by singing, for example, “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
  • Use songs and sing-song voices to tell stories and to ease transitions into new activities, such as nap-time and snack-time.
  • Have your child take turns with a partner playing and imitating patterns on an instrument.
  • Have two children ask each other questions, using instruments to respond either “yes” or “no.”
  • Have a small group of children sit in a circle and assign each one an instrument or a sound. Each child gets a turn being the leader and leads the rest of the group in playing together with a certain speed, volume, or rhythm

More ideas for musical involvement in the home can be found at

Music therapists keep your child’s best interest in mind, as well as your families. By taking advantage of the benefits music has to offer, you can kickstart your child’s development and ensure their personal growth.

Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 17, 2021

Jessica Fortunato
Jessica Fortunato is a writer who also enjoys photography, music, and hiking.
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