Music and Language Connection on Brain Development

Some food for thought regarding the partnership of music and language on brain development.

Excerpts from  by Pam Shiller 12/20/10
“Linguists, psychologists, and neuro-scientists have recently changed their long held opinion about the relationship between speaking and singing. The latest data show that music and language are so intertwined that an awareness of music is critical to a baby’s language development (Deutsch, 2010). As children  grow, music fosters their communication skills. Our sense of song helps us learn to talk, read, and even make friends.”

“Brain areas governing music and language overlap. Music and language have much in common. Both are governed by rules and basic elements (word and notes). In language, words make phrases, which combine to make larger phrases and eventually sentences. In music, notes combine and grow to form a melody.”

“The neurological ties between music and language go both ways; a person’s native tongue influences the way he perceives music. The same progression of notes may sound different depending on the language the listener learned growing up. Speakers of tonal languages (most Asian languages) are much more likely than Westerners to have perfect pitch. All languages have a melody that is unique. Infants echo the inherent melodies of their native language when they cry, long before they speak. Speech has a natural melody called prosody. Prosody is the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language. It changes with emotions. The more excited the speaker, the faster the rhythm. It also emphasizes word boundaries. Prosody is exaggerated in the way people speak to infants. This high pitch sing-song language is referred to as ‘parentese’.”

• Sing! Sing! Sing!
• Use ‘parentese’ with newborns.
• Include a time for music each day.

The applications presented by Pam Shiller are great.  During the holiday  season you have lots of festive songs that you can sing.  Sing out.  Sing proud.  Sing  together and have fun!