Montessori and Music
Dr. Montessori had clear thoughts on the importance of music in children’s lives.
“There should be music in the child’s environment, just as there does exist in the child’s environment spoken speech. In the social environment the child should be considered and music should be provided.” -Maria Montessori
In a Montessori primary classroom, you will find song and dance during circle time. You will also find auditory material, such as the Montessori Bells and Sound Cylinders.
The benefits of music to the developing brain
The effects of music on brain development and cognition have been well studied.
Music activates the areas of the brain involved with concentration, anticipation, and updating events in our memory, according to a Stanford study. Musicians have also been found to have a greater working memory than non-musicians. Adults who received formal music training as children have an easier time distinguishing sounds in words, as well as understanding language in less than ideal listening situations.
It’s not just musicians that reap the benefits of music; listening to music is great for the brain, as well! Studies show that people, when listening to music, have a higher level of brainwave activity and lower stress and anxiety levels.
This is just the tip of the iceberg to the mountain of benefits of music. It’s no wonder music is part of all early learning programs, not just at Montessori schools.
Helping develop a child’s auditory accuity
Dr. Montessori said of developing a child’s auditory acuity, “We hear better, that is, with greater acuteness, when we notice lighter sounds than we did before. The training of the senses therefore leads to an appreciation of the least stimuli, and the smaller the thing is that is perceived, the greater is the capacity of the sense.” (The Discovery of the Child, p. 135)
These help a child learn to differential different types of sounds and different levels of volume. This can be presented as a matching game, a grading activity, and a memory exercise.
Schylling Hand Bells
These are tuned bells that a child can match with other instruments. My children absolutely love these!
The Silence Game
This is a game wherein the teacher or parent darkens the room, lights a candle, and models how to sit in silence. This game helps children experience stillness and silence. It also helps develop auditory discrimination since the child will be able to hear sounds that are not usually audible.
Music Lessons that align with the Montessori philosophy
Following a child’s interests doesn’t stop with auditory accuity activities, playing and singing songs, and keeping accessible a variety of sound-producing items. If you find that your child has the knack for rythym and music, formal lessons could be the next step.
It is widely accepted within the Montessori community that the Suzuki Method is Montessori-compatiple.
Suzuki and Montessori
Dr. Suzuki wrote, “Our aim needs to be the nurturing of children. The moment we rigidly convince ourselves, “Education is what we’re after,” we warp a child’s development. -1- First foster the heart, then help the child acquire ability. This is indeed nature’s proper way.” The Suzuki Method takes into consideration the child’s development and their need to have their interests nurtured. There is nothing tedious or pushy about this method of learning.
Much like the Montessori Method uses mimickry before a formal lesson, Suzuki utilizes mimickry, amount other things, before the formal introduction of reading music. A quality Suzuki teacher will pay close attention to the child’s needs and interests, much like a guide in a Montessori classroom!
Music moves us. It elicits every emotion possible. If your child has this interest, I encourage you to follow it! If it turns out to be your child’s gift, what a special gift to have!