Music ignites all areas of a child’s development and skills for school readiness. Exposing children to music during early childhood helps them to learn the sound and to recognize the meaning of words.
1. What are the benefits or impact of music can make in early childhood development?
Music accelerates brain development. Introducing music has long-term benefits which enriches a child’s language literacy, cognition, social development, attention span, motor and aural skills. Learning an instrument like piano or violin, requires motor skills, from simple movements like clapping, shaking, waving and bouncing with music helps to develop and fine motor skills.
Emotional and social skills
Learning music in a group or individually, helps to develop emotional and social skills. It teaches children to listen, develops empathy to music from other cultures, and be aware of how other children interprets music. They learn to interact with other children in a group-setting, work together in an orchestra or choir. Children learn the importance of socialising, breaking out from their comfort zone, and increases interaction and communication with other children.
Perseverance and self-esteem
Persevere to practice and achieve the desired goals teaches a child not to give up easily. To obtain the desired sound requires observation and repetition in a child. The child becomes more confident through performing in front of their peers or an audience, and as a result, boost their self-esteem.
Learning music allows the child to sing, play a musical instrument, dance, compose and improvise, fostering creativity. Playing a repertoire develops note-reading ability, deciphering the appropriate fingerings, and exposes the child to the different ways of interpretating the music. Children learn to be creative and encourages flexibility as a result. It teaches them to think out of the box and that there is not just one solution to a problem.
Early Childhood Development & Music Education
“Persevere to practice and achieve the desired goals teaches a child not to give up easily.” — Dr. Lee Pei Ming
2. We understand that you specialize in early childhood music programs for toddlers as young as 18 months old, how do you think having an early start would benefit a child in his/her learning behaviors?
According to research, babies as young as 6 months old are able to identify pitches and it is only through learning music that more accurate aural pitch is developed later on in life. Based on my personal experience, when children attend new trials, they are exposed to a new environment and may be distracted by new faces and props. Therefore, the children may be distracted and seem uninterested in what the teaching is. Sometimes parents are too quick to conclude that their child is not interested in music after the trials.
However, after a few lessons, the children become more focused, able to follow instructions and pays attention in class. As a result, I can see that the children are able to lengthen their attention span, stay focus and follow instructions better subsequently.
3. How do you think parents should couple the right environment and instrument to nurture their child’s interest from young?
I definitely see significant improvement in a child’s learning when parents put in effort at home. I believe in working hand-in-hand with parents in developing the interest of the child because I will always tell them: no matter how good a teacher is, if the child does not do efficient home-practices, it will be a waste of effort. Unless a child is really motivated and independent, then it’s a different story.
4. As a mother of four, how do you think that has help in the way you teach music? Before and after becoming a mum, did you see a change in the way you will communicate with your students?
After having my own children, I definitely understood the psychology of children better, thus improving my teaching skills. For example, when I was developing the curriculum at my own school Staccato!, I wanted to squeeze as much content and activities as possible so that it is not boring to the children. However, I came to realize that children sometimes like repetition, and when they are able to answer questions because of the repetitions, it helps to boost their confidence.
When my second son was learning his grade 5 piano examination at 9 years old, he did not spend too much time practicing. As a result, one month before his exam, he was unable to play with both hands. I decided to sit down with him to practice and enforce strict discipline.
Even though both of us went through buckets of tears, in the end, he passed and obtained his result better than his expectations. Through this episode, I’ve learned that as a parent I should not procrastinate and gave in to my son’s whining, instead I should instil strict discipline in young children to not give up too easily.
5. What were the attributes you saw in Kai Cheng that made him stood out from the rest of the contestants at the 5th Steinway Youth Piano Competition, even though there were older contestants who may have an upper hand in terms of stage experience?
I distinctively remembered that after Kai Cheng finished his performance before the results were announced, I told him that I was very proud of him because he gave his best effort in the competition. I told him that no matter what the result was, even if he didn’t win the competition, he should be happy with the way he performed. He was, and so was I. When the result was announced that he not only won his category but the grand finals as well, I broke down in tears of happiness. My husband shared my joy and said that I was even happier than when we got married!
Dr. Lee Pei Ming
Ex-Assistant Professor at NUS, Founder of Staccato Music
Dr Lee seeks to share her love for classical music beyond imparting music competence to her students. Her desire is to create an approach for teaching piano and classical music that enables her students of all ages to cultivate an appreciation and enjoyment of classical music in a developmentally appropriate environment.
Dr Lee’s education and teaching experiences in the US has led her to develop a highly unique approach for early childhood music programs where classical music is used in conjunction with the music education philosophies of renowned music educators such as Carl Orff, Dalcroze, Suzuki and Kodály. Through innovative lessons that include dancing, singing and playing to the accompaniment of lively classical music compositions, children develop a listening ear at a young age and at the same time, pick up musical skills and concepts that will serve as a valuable foundation for more advanced musical development.