Using Music and the Acoustic Guitar to Help Accelerate Your Child’s Learning and Brain Development – Guest Post

September 8, 2011

(Thank you to Aaron Schulman, for this guest post!)

Learning for every developing child requires several modalities to help a child to develop into a well-rounded and functional adult in a demanding society. With a structured, healthy home-life, a foundation of safety and good nurturing in tact, a child has a head-start over his or her peers who experience a more disruptive or unstable home life. However, considering many students whose homes are safe-havens for solid self-esteem and healthy development, not all students with similar family foundations develop at the same rate, or gravitate toward the same modalities of learning and intelligence types, nor do these variable guarantee educational success for developing children.

In fact, some students in public school find that the models of teaching and learning linguistics and logical-mathematical modalities (the majority of curriculum in public schools), can be quite challenging because their specific, individual strengths or gifts may reside in other areas of intelligence. Parents have noticed that because our modern societies and the educational almost demand that children learn to be successful while utilizing only two or three-sevenths of the “multiple-intelligences” that have been discovered (otherwise known as learning styles), many gifted students find themselves struggling with main-stream education that does not focus on or help to develop their unique learning strengths, styles or bents.

More than just Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

These seven learning styles (or multiple-intelligences as developed by Howard Gardner, developmental psychologist) are:

  • Linguistic (verbal and written communication)
  • Logical-mathematical (logical analytical skills)
  • Visual (spatial-creative thinking in abstract ways or dimensions)
  • Bodily-kinesthetic (using coordinated body movements to accomplish tasks)
  • Musical (musical aptitude and ability)
  • Interpersonal (development of “extravert” or other people oriented tendencies)
  • Intrapersonal (development of “introvert” or internal oriented tendencies)

Utilizing musical instruments (such as the acoustic guitar or drums) early and throughout the child’s development can help foster a sense of self-esteem, kinesthetic, musical, intrapersonal and interpersonal development and connection, while parents can invest more quality time with their growing children. Additionally, more advanced musical instruction as the child grows older can help develop more strengths in the visual, linguistic and logical-mathematical areas as well due to music’s demands on those skills or intelligence areas in order to become adept at learning, reading and playing music from written scores.

Personal experience and a bit of real science

From this author’s perspective as both an educator and a parent, using and encouraging musical development in children at an early age is a great way to invest in one’s child for self-esteem, a richer life experience, and some other developmental and educational benefits. Though there are a lot of peer-reviewed psychological journal articles that link formal music education to higher analytical and spatial intelligence development, (such as the Mozart effect on spatial memory enhancement and Dr. Gottfried Schlaug’s studies on higher corpus callosum growth in music students, this article’s focus is not to delve into the technical science behind the benefits of music, but the more practical benefits that can be realized.

When an parent uses music or a musical instrument to begin to share experience with his or her child, even at early ages preceding 12 months, one can witness a positive response. Children at very early ages, without any ability for verbal communication can begin to sense rhythm in music and can begin to move their little arms and legs (kinesthetic and musical intelligence) as they experience the rhythm of music. But that is not all that is occurring in their little developing brains. Studies have shown that children who begin to learn formal music before the age of 7 actually develop a more robust corpus callosum (the neural network that connects both left and right halves of the brain), showing that music learning enhances both the development of the logical-mathematical (ST or spatial temporal) parts of the brain and the Language-Analytical (LA reasoning) area of the brain. Much like a muscle in early development, the more that different parts of the brain are used in tandem in a positive, productive learning activity such as music, the more they appear to develop together: the corpus callosum actually determines how well both hemispheres of the brain interact or communicate with each other, and those who have been trained well in music have a higher connectivity between brain hemispheres.


About the author: Aaron Schulman is an avid guitar player, musician, father, husband, teacher and web developer. He enjoys writing, teaching and developing websites, including his acoustic guitar reviews site, strumviews.com. After having a poor experience with his first guitar purchase, he studied guitar construction practices and began helping people make more informed guitar purchases. He has written many online guitar lessons, articles and reviews, including finding the “best acoustic guitars under 1000”. Before buying an acoustic guitar for a child or yourself, he recommends researching to learn first how a quality acoustic guitar is made.

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