Young Children Learning Mathematics Through Beat, Rhythm and Melody by Kamile Geist, Eugene A. Geist, and Kathleen Kuznik discuss how music is not only pleasurable but also useful in stimulating growing, young minds.    


Music and rhythm can be powerful tools in teaching children.  While many early childhood toys are meant to stimulate the sense of sight, one of the first ways and infant learns to organize his or her thoughts and understand patterns is through their sense of hearing and touch.  The steady, rhythmic beat of a lullaby or nursery rhyme can soothe an infant while also allowing the infant to hear and process the complex patterns of the music.


Incorporating music into a teacher, librarian, or parent’s daily routine will naturally and easily contribute to future learning in literacy and mathematics, activating patterning.  The article emphasizes the importance of using music to support a child’s learning stating, “Keeping mathematics learning natural and comfortable should be the goal of all teachers, whether they are teaching infants or college students”.  Numerous studies have shown that using music in the classroom regularly while teaching reading or mathematics, at any age, greatly improves the person’s ability to understand and retain complex concepts. For example, when was the last time you have heard a commercial without background music?  Music can help us remember things whether it be an advertising jingle for shaving cream or the ABC song.  


The article continues: “Recent music neuroscience research indicates that steady beat does affect attention behaviors in humans. We typically process steady beat in the premotor cortex of the brain, an area also related to attention (Bengtsson et al. 2008). Zentner and Eerola (2010) found that 120 infants, ages 5–24 months, were more engaged with rhythm-only stimuli (for example, a steady drum beat) than with speech-only stimuli. The results of this study indicate that children have the potential to be more engaged when listening to steady beats than when listening to verbal-only instructions.”  


For helpful tips to incorporate in a teacher’s lesson plan (whether it be during circle time reading or a math lesson on addition and subtraction), see purple box in article entitled, “Tips for Using Music to Engage Children in Mathematics”.  


Keep calm and rock on.