Effects of Music on the Literacy Development of Children

The following findings were obtained from the interviews conducted with the parents and the practitioners. The qualitative data collected from the interviews were analyzed using the thematic analysis process. The themes obtained from the data on the effects of music on the literacy development are presented herein.

Engaging young children in music activities

The study findings observed that there are a number of ways that can be adopted to engage the children in the music activities. The practitioners indicated that the government should ensure that music is included in the pre-school syllabus as a subject to be taught by the children. This will ensure that the children are engaged in the music activities during the music lesson by making them learn the different musical rhythms as well as involve them in the playing of the musical instruments.
The parents that were involved in the study reported that they can also be involved to engage the children in music activities. Majority of the parents stated that music is an important tool that can be used to involve the parents in the learning process of the young children while at home. It is observed that the home learning process through music is enough to engage the child in the music activities for him/her to enjoy the perceived benefits of being engaged in the music activities.

The children can also be engaged in the music activities when the teachers use music as a tool for teaching and making certain illustration. This approach has been supported by Bus and Neuman (2014); Chambers, Cheung & Slavin (2016) when they pointed out that the over use of instructions in teaching of the children may be boring thus preventing the children from capturing the information that was being communicated. It is therefore important that the teachers use music for illustrations or providing certain examples to ensure that the children and engaged in music activities and to increase the chances of the children in understanding the information being communicated.


Music can build the vocabulary of the children.


The study participants indicated that music can be effective in literacy development of the children through building and improving their vocabulary. The responses from the practitioners indicated that there is significant evidence that children are likely to acquire English vocabulary by listening and reading oral stories. During their early stages of learning, the children are likely to acquire language through listening. The practitioners also indicated that very few children are likely to acquire new vocabularies through pure instructions from their teachers, majority of the children in the pre-school incidentally acquire new vocabulary from music or oral stories that are presented to them by their teachers.


The study participants indicated that music can be effective in literacy development of the children through building and improving their vocabulary. The responses from the practitioners indicated that there is significant evidence that children are likely to acquire English vocabulary by listening and reading oral stories. During their early stages of learning, the children are likely to acquire language through listening. The practitioners also indicated that very few children are likely to acquire new vocabularies through pure instructions from their teachers, majority of the children in the pre-school incidentally acquire new vocabulary from music or oral stories that are presented to them by their teachers.

The practitioners and the parents engaged in the study also indicated that the lyrics of a song presented to the children can act as a source of new vocabulary to them. The use of music that is accompanied by some form of instructions even has a higher ability of building the vocabulary of the children. It is reported that the children are likely to learn English words that are “robust” if they are presented in form of music than when given as an instruction by the teachers.
The same view was held by a number of scholars who have pointed out that the new English words can be effectively and incidentally acquired by the children when they listen to music (Slater, Tierney & Kraus, 2013; McPherson, 2015). Creech, Hallam, McQueen & Varvarigou (2013) have also indicates that the children tend to know more robust English words that are presented in form of music. In case that they engage them in a form of instruction or communication of the words then they fail to remember the vocabularies mentioned. As such, music is important tools that can be used in the pre-school to enable the children build their vocabulary.
Music improves the phonemic and phonological awareness
Phonological awareness refers to the acknowledgement of distinct nature of sounds of speech as different in their meaning. On the other hand, phonemic awareness refers to the understanding and appreciation that words can be divided into distinct units of speech sound. According to Dalagna, Lã and Welch (2013) the level of phonological and phonemic awareness that a child has determines his/her success in learning to read. In order to learn how to read, the children must have the knowledge that words are made of sounds.

Music experience improves the phonological awareness of the children. Music consists of a series of discrete musical tones and notes. On the other hand, to understand a spoken word, one is required to process the distinct phonemes and intonation communicated through pitch. The similarities observed between listening to words as they are communicated and music justifies the assertion that human brain processes music and language in a similar manner. As such, integration of music in the early literacy instructions is an effective strategy in building their phonemic awareness.

The parents involved in the study indicated that integrating music in teaching if the children in pre-school contributes positively towards their brain development functioning. The improvement in brain functioning have positive implications on the growth of phonemic awareness. The findings that music improves phonemic awareness in children have also received significant support in literature. According to Creech et al (2013) building proper understandings of sounds that are within words begin with the ability to differentiate similarities and differences in the sounds. This can only be achieved when a child listen to a lyric that clearly differentiate the sounds. As such, music does not only influence the growth of phonemic awareness in children but also influences their ability to be successful in learning how to read.

Music improves reading comprehension

Reading comprehension is referred to as the probable outcome of reading instructions. On the other hand, comprehension is defined as the deliberate thinking where relevant meaning is constructed through the interactions observed between the reader and the text. The practitioners engaged in the interview indicated that the children who tend to take part in music classes develop effective text reading comprehension than those who do not participate. It is also reported that children who attend music classes and are taught through music instructions tend to score more in the reading comprehension texts. As such, music has positive implications on the reading comprehension of the children.

The parents that were involved in the study also indicated that the young children had an improved reading comprehension when taught through musical instruction. The children tend to have an effective reading comprehension after going through a process of listening to the rhythmic and melodic elements of different forms of music. Similar findings were obtained by () when they subjected a group of individuals to receive musical instructions that mainly focused on listening to music with emphasis laid on the melodic and the rhythmic elements of the said music presented. The control group was not subjected to any form of music instruction. The researchers obtained that those who were subjected to the musical instructions had scored higher in the reading comprehension texts in comparison to the control group that were not subjected to any form of musical instructions. Exposing the young children to music and using the musical instruction in teaching is effective in improving their reading comprehension skills to the better.

Music Improves Verbal Memory

Increased verbal memory is also another positive implication of music on the young children. According to () the verbal memory of the children influences their ability to read printed words. Reading normally progresses from words to texts and to sentences of greater length. Verbal memory is mandatory for a child to preserve the material to be read in memory so as to perform the semantic and syntactic analysis necessary in comprehension. It is observed that verbal memory is vital for all the children that are learning to read. Since poor performance in reading have been constantly associated with poor verbal memory, it is essential that the young children have a strong verbal memory for them to read easily.

The study participants did not just mentioned that music has a positive influence on the verbal memory of the children; however, they also reported how the positive influence is brought about. The study participants reported that music training of the children enhances their verbal learning and retention abilities. It is reported that the longer the period of training on music, the higher the level of verbal memory that the children can develop.
From another perspective, the study participants indicated that playing of music instruments enhances the brain development of the child as well as the ability of the brain to remember things. The children who have constant training in playing different kinds of musical instruments have a better verbal memory than those who have not taken part in any form of training. As such, children with extensive training in music and have been engaged in playing of the musical instruments have a higher possibility or remembering words that are communicated verbally as opposed to children who are not involved in any form of music training.

Music assists in building listening skills

Listening is the first mode of language that the young children acquire. Listening therefore provides a foundation for development of reading as well as acquisition of different forms of language. According to Korat and Shamir (2012) learning to have a perfect listening skill is a prerequisite to listening to learn different literacy in English. Listening is an important aspect of learning since, the children spent most of their time listening to the teachers for them to learn new ideas in whatever is being taught.

It is observed that the children are exposed to listening activities on several occasions within their classrooms, however, the teaching of the listening skills have not been pervasive within most of the pre-schools. The study participants reported that majority of the teachers of the young children make an assumption that listening is a natural skill that can be developed automatically by the children. As such, they are not required to put more emphasis in teaching of the listening skills. The findings of the study however, indicate that this assumption ought not to be made.
Musical activities have been cited by the study participants as the approach that can be adopted by the pre-school teachers to teach listening skills. According to both the parents and the practitioners that were involved in the study, the training in music improves the development and functioning of brain that is linked to listening. It is reported that the children who had received training in music had increased cognitive processing of information and showed a greater level of relaxation. As such, engaging the young children in music and music training will improve their brain functioning that equally have positive implications on their listening skills.

Music training and engaging the young children in the playing of music instruments is important in improving their listening skills. According to Gillen and Hall (2013) as the children listens to the rhythms of the music being played, they tend to develop some form of attentiveness that is necessary when building effective listening skills. Moreover, since the music is likely to attract the attention of the children, they are likely to increase their concentration span by continuously listening to the music that is being played (Dalagna, Lã & Welch, 2013). Listening to music or playing the music instruments is therefore desirable in ensuring that the young children improve in their listening skills.

Summary of the Research Findings

From the findings obtained it is observed that music has positive influence on the literacy development of the young children. Whether the children are engaged in the singing sessions, or music is used for illustrations, or the children are engaged in playing of the musical benefits, music has significant positive implications on the literacy development of the children. It contributed towards the improvement in the listening and reading skills as well as enhances their verbal memory. Music is also important in increasing the phonological and phonemic awareness of the child that has positive implications on their reading and writing skills. The use of music in teaching of the children also contributes towards their positive brain development and functioning therefore enhancing their listening skills and build on their vocabulary. Similar information has been presented by the previous scholars who had tackled the issue of music and its contributions on the child learning process. Music is therefore an important tool that can be used by the teachers of the children in the pre-schools to improve on their literacy development and growth.

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