Guest post provided by Laura Williams
Kids who demonstrate early proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math—also known as the STEM subjects—can reap significant advantages in their future academic journeys. Children who are able to grasp the concepts taught in these four disciplines, and who can demonstrate the skills associated with them, often get good grades in STEM subjects and excel in other areas of their primary and secondary school curriculum.
One thing parents can do to make their children’s learning experiences smoother, richer, and more enjoyable, especially for STEM subjects, is align the latter’s learning preferences and the type of intelligence that resonates with them. If your little one has the ability to appreciate pitch, rhythm, and timbre, then they may be showing signs of musical intelligence—an inclination that will serve them quite well for subjects related to the hard sciences.
What Is Musical Intelligence?
Musical intelligence pertains to one’s ability to not only understand, create, and appreciate music, but also have a heightened sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and musical patterns. Musically intelligent individuals often excel in the various aspects of music, including musical perception, aural memory, and music theory. When nurtured, musical intelligence can help people thrive in the music industry, and serious musicians often find fulfillment in careers like music education, composition, and music therapy.
Several educational institutions recognize the value of musical intelligence in children and, in fact, deliver educational programs that have a strong focus on developing it. Kinderland, for instance, has the Children’s Music Programme, which provides preschoolers with an environment where they can build a solid foundation for music appreciation. The program is taught by professionally-qualified music teachers who introduce weekly keyboard lessons to their students to further develop their hearing, singing, keyboard playing, and notation reading skills. As a result, what parents say about Kinderland’s music program, as well as Kinderland’s upcoming musical activities, is largely positive.
How Musical Intelligence and STEM Disciplines Connect
As a parent who’s new to the notion of musical intelligence, you might be wondering about how your child’s ability to notate music or play an instrument has anything to do with STEM. If STEM deals with the hard sciences, where does music—an art form—fit into the equation?
In truth, children with musical intelligence often learn certain music-related skills that, when nurtured, fit perfectly into their STEM education. Here’s a briefer on some of those skills:
1) Mathematical Skills
One might not immediately connect the dots between playing a musical instrument and solving complex mathematical equations. However, the synergy between a child’s musical skills and mathematical abilities is a powerful force that can significantly benefit their learning for STEM subjects. This is because musical pieces are built on intricate rhythms and patterns, and this rhythmic precision can actually strengthen mathematical skills such as counting, pattern recognition, and understanding mathematical sequences.
Moreover, the division of musical notes into fractions of a whole is a fundamental aspect of music theory. As children learn to read and play music, they’ll intuitively grasp concepts related to fractions and timing. This understanding will translate seamlessly into the world of mathematics, where fractions play a crucial role in various mathematical operations.
2) Problem-Solving Skills
Learning a new song and learning how to play with an ensemble involve overcoming myriad challenges, like mastering complex compositions, navigating unfamiliar musical passages, and learning one’s role in relation to the role of others. Each challenge thus becomes a cognitive exercise that trains children to approach problems with resilience, creativity, and a determination to find workable solutions with other people’s help.
This ability to tackle musical challenges with a problem-solving mindset forms the basis for addressing complex problems in STEM subjects. The ability to approach a variety of obstacles, paired with a willingness to experiment, adapt, and think collaboratively, will help future STEM students navigate the complexities of mathematics, science, and technology with finesse.
3) Memory and Attention
Music often involves memorizing a repertoire of pieces, each with its own set of notes, rhythms, and dynamics. This constant exercise in memorization enhances a musically intelligent child's ability to retain information. The same skill, of course, can be exercised in academic settings, where the memorization of formulas, concepts, and scientific principles will help them get a better handle on STEM subjects.
Musically intelligent children also develop a heightened attention to detail—a skill that proves invaluable in STEM subjects where precision and accuracy are of utmost importance. Lastly, musical practice requires focused attention and concentration, and when children get to dedicate time to perfecting their musical skills, they’ll be able to cultivate the ability to sustain their concentration for difficult subjects like science and maths over extended periods.
4) Critical Listening and Analysis
The process of learning to play different musical notes and tones sharpens auditory discrimination. Musically intelligent children can distinguish subtle differences in pitch, tone quality, and rhythm. This heightened auditory discrimination can prove foundational for the critical observation and analysis skills required in STEM subjects, where the ability to discern minute variations is essential for accurate experimentation and analysis.
In addition, the skills developed through critical listening and analysis in musical activities align quite closely with the steps of the scientific method. Thus, musically intelligent children who are naturally inclined towards systematic observation and the application of analytical thinking should be encouraged and have their talents nurtured. In the near future, this can evolve into an inclination for scientific inquiry.
5) Language Development
Lastly, children who learn to develop their musical intelligence can eventually become fluent in a unique set of terms—from notes and scales to dynamics and articulations. This exposure to musical terminology is sure to enhance language development, expanding a child's vocabulary and introducing them to the language of music.
This linguistic diversity seamlessly complements the language skills also required in STEM subjects, where mastery of subject-specific terms is essential. If you want your child to become proficient at any subject that involves mastering languages—whether those are foreign languages or languages specific to a discipline, like coding in computer science—let them practice their language skills in a school with a music-oriented curriculum.
Every child gravitates towards a particular type of intelligence, and no matter what it is, it’s in your best interest as a parent to nurture it. If you see both a budding musician and scientist in your child, remember that you don’t need to pit both potentialities against each other—you can help them discover the best of both worlds through an education that honors both the sciences and the arts.
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!