Music is integrated into the Cultural area of the Montessori classroom. (The other four areas of the classroom are Math, Language, Sensorial, and Practical Life.) It is considered, along with art, to be “cultural” because it is shaped by our experiences in our family, history and culture. It has been a part of the history of man as far back as archaeologists have discovered! “Music…formed part of the sacred heritage that each group…transmitted to their children.” (Mario Montessori).
This idea that the ability to appreciate and enjoy music is innate in every child, that every child begins life with an attraction to music and movement, is central to the Montessori approach to music. Dr. Maria Montessori said, “Experience has taught us…that if offered the right kind of education from a very early age onwards, anyone is capable of entering the realm of music. Not everyone has the talent to practice music at an artistic level, or create new work, but everyone can reach a stage where they can enjoy it.”
Does my infant, toddler or preschooler really need music?
We would say, YES, your child needs music! Not in the same way that they need food, water, connection, love – but music is powerful.
Your child absorbs music from their environment. For example, recent scientific studies have confirmed that in the last trimester of pregnancy, babies can hear a wide range of musical tones, and that they react—with heart range changes and movement–to the sounds they hear! (Source.) The results of a study done in 1998 by Peter Hepper indicate that infants may remember songs and lullabies heard frequently in utero! Infants and toddlers gravitate and respond to music with kicks and hand movement, swaying and rocking, and eventually, dancing – all without being taught.
Music is also deeply connected to the part of our brains involved in our behavioral and emotional responses (the limbic system). Music prompts an emotional response, which in turn, affects behavior – it can affect things such as illness, depression, spending, and productivity! Music also supports the formation of “important brain connections that are being established over the first three years of life.” Music is a powerful means of communication, self-expression, as well as expression of common humanity. It is a way a caregiver and child connect and communicate.
Music also supports the development of your child. Studies have shown the study of music reinforces the parts of the brain used when doing math; “studies even show that children who play instruments are able to complete complex mathematical problems better than peers who do not play instruments.” (Source.) Other studies have shown that music supports the development of language and reading skills. Lisa Trei says in a Stanford Report that studies “have shown that acoustical training can assist struggling young readers by helping them pick out rapid sound changes within syllables. Other work has shown that musical training helps people perceive sound pitches more effectively and increases verbal memory.” (Source.)
Music is an important part of your child’s early childhood programming and into elementary school years and beyond!
How is music incorporated into your classrooms?
From infants to preschool, our classrooms are filled with music. We sing songs while cuddling babies, rhymes while playing clapping games, the greatest hits of decades and centuries past softly playing in the background during activities. We incorporate music while celebrating birthdays, while learning anything from the seven continents to the weather, to circle times and to individual lessons. We incorporate music history and music theory into our classrooms. We also have assorted instruments for children to experiment with, including rhythm sticks, triangles, maracas, small drums, rain sticks, croaking wooden frogs and tambourines. Children explore materials that teach music notation and rhythm, the sound cylinders, as well as the Montessori bells.
The Montessori bells are a wonderful first introduction to music! Our classroom has a set of 8 bells, a control set and a working set. The bells start at middle C and travel up to high C. Children use a wooden mallet (“striker”) to strike the bells and listen to the sound. The bells help the child develop auditory discrimination – the ability to discriminate between differences in sound. The first interaction the child has with the bells, they will match bells which have the same tone. Then, the child will learn to line up the bells from lowest to highest pitch. Last, the child will learn to identify each tone with its name. For example, “C”. At this point, the child will work with 2-3 bells at a time, until they can easily identify all the notes. Finally, after this step, the child will learn to play simple songs on the bells!
In addition to all of these, we also offer all Toddler Community and Children’s House students music classes with our beloved Kindermusik certified instructor, Ms. Colleen! This is part of our program and is available at no cost to you!
We also develop musical ability by offering opportunities to dance, practicing graceful movement by walking on the line, balancing objects carefully, or perhaps marching or other movements to music while on the line. We also have extracurricular options from incredible area instructors, including Dance Stars and Kidz Fit Gymnastics, which aid in gross motor development, body awareness, bilateral coordination, balance and more!
Music is not just a cultural experience, but aids in a child’s cognitive and social-emotional development! A holistic early childhood program will offer a music-rich environment for your child!
“…success [in music education] is bound up with the need for the production of plenty of music around the child, so that there is set up an environment calculated to develop musical sense and intelligence.”
—Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child