Music and movement

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In education, music and movement is the use of rhythmic song and dance, thought of as beneficial for childhood development. Research has shown that even infants can appreciate music and dance, illustrating a connection between body movement, rhythm and awareness.[1]

Between 1934 and 1973 the BBC School Radio department broadcast a programme entitled Music and Movement (Movement and Music from 1971) once or twice weekly in school term times: it was much used in the British primary education system. It was for many years presented by Ann Driver (1934-48) and Marjorie Eele (1948-61), and consisted of various interpretive and dramatic movement exercises performed to music. The programme is remembered by pupils of the era with sentiments ranging from affection to horror.[2]



Studies indicate a positive correlation between music lessons/participation and memory,[3] mathematical achievement, reading ability,[4] intelligence ratings, grades and test scores.[5][6][7]

A number of researchers have suggested a link between music and the ability to understand inter-relationships. Musical activity such as playing an instrument requires the same neural firing patterns needed in other forms of reasoning. These firing patterns can be enhanced through repeated use so music can be used to strengthen connections in the brain, particularly in young children.[8] Researchers have also found that listening to words as they are sung improves ability to distinguish linguistic patterns, suggesting that music can facilitate language learning and encourage the development of auditory discrimination. Similar areas of the brain are activated when listening to or playing music and speaking or processing language.[9] Additionally, music training can help individuals perceive emotions in speech which may increase their ability to interpret human behavior.[10]


Physical movement helps balance, coordination, self-esteem and body awareness.[11] Movement associated with drama leads to improvements in adaptive social behavior,[12] body movement and gestures help children absorb ideas better[13] and can act as memory aids.[14] both in learning and recalling one's personal past.[15]

In combination[edit]

Teachers often implement music and creative movement to help young children count, remember the alphabet, days of the week etc. The Kodály Method and the Kindermusik programme were designed to encourage children to explore the world creatively through music and movement. The whole notion of using whole-body movement in the service of music was codified initially and put into practice by pre-eminent music educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950). Practitioners of the Dalcroze approach continue to lead the way in movement and music education, ensuring that the meticulous standards Jaques-Dalcroze required of his teachers are maintained to this day through rigorous training and assessment of teachers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Phill-Silver, J., & Trainor, L.J. (2005). Feeling the beat: Movement influences infant rhythm perception. Science, 308, 1430.
  2. ^ :
  3. ^ Jakobson, L., Lewycky, S., Kilgour, A., & Stoesz, B. (2008). Memory for verbal and visual material in highly trained musicians. Music Perception, 26, 41-55 doi:10.1525/mp.2008.26.1.41
  4. ^ DANA Foundation (2008). Are smart people drawn to the arts or does arts training make people smarter?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from 080304150459.htm
  5. ^ DANA Foundation (2008). Are smart people drawn to the arts or does arts training make people smarter?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from 080304150459.htm
  6. ^ Peter Miksza (2007). Music participation and socioeconomic status as correlates of change: A longitudinal analysis of academic achievement. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education (172), 41-57.
  7. ^ Schellenberg, E. G. (2004). Music lessons enhance IQ. Psychological Science, 15, 511-514. Retrieved from
  8. ^ Bilhartz, T., Bruhn, R., & Olson, J. (1999). The effect of early music training on child cognitive development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 20, 615-636. doi:10.1016/S0193-3973(99)00033-7
  9. ^ Schon, D., Peretz, I., Besson, M., Boyer, M., Kolinsky, R., & Moreno, S. (2008). Songs as an aid
  10. ^ Thompson, W.F., Schellenberg, E.G., & Husain, G. (2004). Decoding speech prosody: Do music lessons help?. Emotion, 4, 46-64.
  11. ^ Schneider, I. (2001, Spring). Balance, posture, and movement: Optimizing children's learning capacities through integration of the sensory motor system. Renewal, 10. Retrieved from
  12. ^ Schellenberg, E. G. (2004). Music lessons enhance IQ. Psychological Science, 15, 511-514. Retrieved from
  13. ^ Cook, S., Mitchell, Z., & Goldinmeadow, S. (2008). Gesturing makes learning last. Cognition, 106, 1047-1058. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2007.04.010
  14. ^ Carlson, R.A., Avraamides, M.N., Cary, M., Strasberg, S. (2007). What do the hands externalize in simple arithmetic?. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33, 747-756. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.33.4.747
  15. ^ Dijkstra, K., Kaschak, M.P., & Zwaan, R.A. (2007). Body posture facilitates retrieval of autobiographical memories. Cognition, 102, 139-149.