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The Importance of Music, Art

By: Sandra F. Rief

Sadly, there tends to be much less emphasis and opportunity for the creative and performing arts in education as children move up in the grades. When there are budget cuts in school districts, art, music, and drama are always the first areas cut from the school program or course offerings. This is unfortunate because much is to be gained by providing musical and artistic experiences throughout a child's educational journey.

Fortunately, preschool and kindergarten curriculum is heavily embedded with music, art, and movement (e.g., marching, dancing, acting things out). These are very critical components of an effective preschool and kindergarten program.

Music

Children learn much by hearing music of different kinds. They learn to discriminate between different sounds, pitches, and rhythms. They learn to identify rhymes, which are so common in the lyrics of songs. Rhyming is critical to the development of phonemic and phonological awareness. Children learn rhythm, which is important in skills such as counting, patterning, and many gross motor activities.

Music speaks to our emotions. It can positively affect our mood. Music can be uplifting and make us feel good. It can also be calming, soothing, and comforting. It can energize us or relax us. The opportunity to hear and play different instruments builds good auditory discrimination and listening skills. It is also a strong motivator and means of self-expression.

Art

Art - in the form of drawing, painting, and crafts-fosters growth in many developmental skills. Many fine motor skills are involved in art activities, such as squeezing glue, using a finger to paste, holding a scissors to cut, and holding and controlling pens, crayons, paint brushes. Children learn many basic concepts through art such as color, design, patterning, size/shape, directionality, and borders and boundaries. Numerous visual-perceptual skills are developed through arts and crafts - discriminating and attending to the likenesses and differences in shapes, size, color, position in space.

Movement/Dance

Dancing and marching help children develop in many ways. They improve a child's sense of rhythm and beat. They are fun and social experiences. They build math concepts (e.g., counting with one-to-one correspondence of the movement matched simultaneously to the count, patterns such as step-step-kick, step-step-kick). They develop a child's coordination, motor control, and balance. They develop laterality - the awareness within the body of the difference between right and left. These activities also develop a child's spatial perception and directionality, which are necessary in reading and writing (e.g., recognizing and producing letters that look similar but are rotated in space, such as b/d/p/q; m/n; reading and writing with left-to-right progression).

Ready, Start, School! 2001, pp 46-47.