Merit School of Music

Benefits of Music Classes for Babies & Toddlers

A young child dances in the Early Childhood classroom, surrounded by colorful music notes.

We know that music classes and lessons provide many benefits for the brain, physical and mental health, and general well-being for people of all ages. But for babies and toddlers, music can be particularly helpful as they progress through crucial stages of development.

Read on to learn all about the ways that music can develop motor skills, improve speech and literacy, and much more—all while getting a peek into our Early Childhood program here at Merit School of Music.

Development of Fine & Gross Motor Skills

Fine Motor Skills: Small, acute muscle movements such as writing, typing, picking up small objects, or using other tools in the classroom.
Gross Motor Skills: Larger movements that require spatial awareness and control of one’s body.

By first introducing smaller musical instruments like egg shakers, rhythm sticks, and bells, Early Childhood music classes give little ones the opportunity to develop their motor skills. Miro Hernandez is one of our dedicated Early Childhood faculty members, and he’s always happy to see the way these skills build throughout the course of a semester. “Seeing a 7-month-old start the program just watching class while chewing on a shaker move on to playing along to music and following the class routine a few months later is such a joy,” he says.

As the kids grow, they begin to utilize more gross motor skills. Little ones 16-24 months old are often crawling, so more movement-based activities are incorporated into the Tuneful Toddlers class such as bouncing and dancing. Music classes for babies and toddlers also frequently incorporate lap songs, where they tune their fine motor skills while on their caretakers’ lap. By the time they reach 2-3 years old, the kids graduate to the Movers and Groovers class, where dancing, jumping and other movement exercises are key components of the class.

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Early Childhood faculty Miro Hernandez with three toddlers gathered in a circle.

Supporting Speech & Literacy

Speech: Language is processed primarily through listening, and because children in music classes practice those listening skills more, speech and vocabulary are developed more efficiently.
Literacy: Learning music enhances reading skills by honing the brain’s focus on sound. As children learn in music classes, their brains get better at distinguishing individual units of sound in words.

Music helps develop babies’ auditory processing. Even in our youngest classes, babies begin to recognize rhythmic patterns and improve their ability to comprehend language. “There is a correlation between learning speech and learning music in terms of identifying the patterns of words and the patterns in music,” says Frances Kennedy, Early Childhood Program Manager and faculty member.

Music, and specifically singing, use similar building blocks as language. Kids can learn to segment sounds and create sound blends through song. While they sing, students concentrate, develop listening and speech skills, retain information, visualize, and build their imaginations.

As the students grow and move into toddler activities, the focus on language skills shifts as they continue to develop. “By the time they get to Movers and Groovers, the songs have more words in them to really integrate language learning,” says Frances. This helps the students continue to build their vocabularies and speech patterns.

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"My child and I look forward to the Early Childhood class each week. It’s a great way to break up our standard schedule and I feel she is being exposed to wonderful music, language and other kids in our community."

– Emily, Early Childhood parent

A parent holds her baby in an Early Childhood class.

Forming Positive Relationships

Relationships: Music can help facilitate the closeness between the children and parents, caregivers, or other family members.
Community: Music brings people together and gives young kids a sense of belonging.

Music classes for babies and toddlers are a great way to strengthen their ties with family members. Research shows that singing lullabies is an effective way for caregivers to bond with their babies, so lullabies are incorporated into the youngest music classes.

While we focus on the benefits for the children, they aren’t the only ones who benefit from the time spent in music class. “It’s not just the students,” Miro emphasizes. “The caregivers and parents who come into class learn how to apply music to their daily interactions with the little ones.” Emily, a Merit parent, agrees with Miro: “My child and I look forward to the Early Childhood class each week. It’s a great way to break up our standard schedule and I feel that she is being exposed to wonderful music, language, and other kids in our community.”

By physically moving in sync together as grown-ups and children alike do throughout class, people feel more connected. While young students might not know their peers in class, through the collaborative nature of music, early music education fosters new relationships and social groups.

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Find the Right Music Class for Your Child

With age-appropriate options for kids ages 0-8, the right class is just a click away!

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