There are three parts of the frontal lobe that are stimulated by music – Broca’s area on the left, the mirror-neuron system on the right, and the emotional center in the middle. Watch a video from Dr. Daniel Levitin in Montreal, of the brain listening to Chopin to see the frontal lobe working, at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19brain.html
The new research indicates that a large part of the impact of music on the brain has to do with emotion. No need to be a “Tiger Mom” to instill music appreciation – a love of music and the benefits it provides are its own rewards. And, you don’t need to push Mozart; all music is good for your child’s brain.
Lullabies – Ages birth to three years – Evidence points to all cultures using bedtime as a time to build a ritual of singing a baby to sleep. With infants, singing the same lullaby each night while you rock your baby stimulates the language and mirror systems while quieting the baby down to sleep and creating a bedtime routine. Any soft, lilting song will do. My children loved “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, but this is one opportunity you have to share your favorite song and create a family tradition. With children over a year, a soft bedtime song after a bedtime story provides a special one-on-one opportunity for parents and child.
Car Sing-Alongs - Ages three to seven years – When driving carpools to school, scouts, or other outings take along a CD of children’s songs, pop it into the CD player, and have the group sing along if they seem interested. By playing children’s songs while driving you can keep the group engaged and limit conflicts, especially among family members. The music also helps to mask the traffic noise from outside the car that can be a problem when you try to carry on conversations.
Name that Tune – Ages seven to eleven – Ask each child in the car to take a turn singing a few of the starting notes from a popular song they think others will know. See how many notes of the song it takes before someone can name the song. Once you have the name, sing a few lines and then let the next child take a turn.
Music Lessons – Five years and older – Music lessons make children smarter. New research conducted by Dr. Shellenberg and colleagues from the University of Toronto showed that that children's IQ scores increase an average of 1 point per 6 months of lessons. So, in theory, a child taking music lessons from age 7 to age 12 would have an increase of 10 points in their IQ due to the music. We will be watching this research as details are released.