Tag Archives: neuroscience

The Science of Music: Controlling Children’s Impulses Through Music

Our series of blog articles for parents on The Neuroscience of Music* continues with how music can help parents control impulses in their children, or more importantly, help children to control their own impulses through “inner speech.”

According to Dr. Dee Coulter, a renowned brain science educator, children need to develop impulse control to be successful in learning, social interactions, and performing complex movement tasks. Dr. Coulter identifies three elements of impulse control – the ability to calm, the ability to wait, and one last skill that develops more slowly – inner speech. Our last two blog articles touched on the impact of music on children’s ability to be patient and be calm. This installment focuses on the use of music to develop a child’s inner speech.

Inner speech is a kind of “self-talk” children use to guide their actions. Here are some insights and suggestions for parents to help their child discover their inner speech:

Inner Speech is Out Loud Until Age 8 or 9 – We can hear children speak out loud to direct their actions or narrate what they are doing. In motor tasks, they may use this “outer-speech” as they tie their shoes, make the shapes of letters, or play Simon Says. In music, this self-talk is developed when words are linked to movements like “head, shoulders, knees and toes” or stories in song that are acted out while singing. As the words are repeated over time they become automated. By age 4 or 5, this self-talk becomes strong enough to override temptations and children can use it to control their impulses. Later, children will need this inner speech skill to guide them while silent reading.

How to Teach Inner Speech in Babies and Toddlers:

  • Sing and talk to your baby or toddler often. Research continually shows that the more children are spoken to as infants, the better their language skills will be later in life. Strong language skills, in turn, lead to improved social skills and better listening and learning skills for school.
  • You will probably notice that your baby or toddler reacts even more favorably to your singing voice as they do when you are simply speaking to them. Singing is calming and soothing to them, so they will instinctively pay closer attention. Make up songs to explain what chores you are doing or what is happening in the world around them. Put their familiar nursery rhymes to music and sing them.

Teaching the Preschooler and Beginning School Age Child:

  • To be a great self-talk coach, show them how by talking to yourself out loud. Just talk as if no one else is there and you are just thinking out loud about how to do these things. Narrate for your child as you do household chores, go to the post office, shop for groceries, or watch the activity at a sibling’s sports event.
  • Recalling song lyrics and stories also builds inner speech. Enjoy singing with your preschooler and beginning school age child, too. Help them master the lyrics to traditional as well as contemporary children’s songs. Many of these songs tell stories, or narrate actions. You will be helping your child build impulse control and perform better in school.

Teaching your child to perform self-talk or inner speech, through music has many lasting benefits, including problem-solving, patience, confidence, and impulse-control. Hearing music and songs from caregivers from the earliest ages help to teach children to sing or talk through everyday tasks. Children’s song lyrics are often a manifestation of describing actions or stories, which help them begin to develop their own inner voice.  

*Musikgarten Delivers: The Neuroscience of Music collection by Dr. Dee Coulter is available for $10 in the Product Catalog section of our Teacher Portal. Username and password are required. You may also contact Musikgarten at 800-216-6864 to purchase.

The Science of Music: How Music Teaches Children to Relax and Be Calm

Music and movement can benefit children and their adults in a multitude of ways. Over the next several months, we will be featuring a series of blog posts on The Neuroscience of Music*, explaining how music benefits children in many ways that parents and music teachers may not realize.

The first subject for this Benefits of Early Childhood Music Series explores how music can help parents teach their children to relax and be calm. Brain science educator, Dr. Dee Coulter, calls this skill the art of self calming. She explains, “It helps us build an ability to self-regulate that we will use our whole lives. But we aren’t born with a calming switch! Babies learn to calm by being calmed. One of the most powerful tools is music.”

 The following are facts and information about how to use music to calm children from the earliest age:

  • Sing to your baby and toddler, even in the womb – Research shows that even in utero, a baby hears and learns its mothers voice. By monitoring heartbeat in utero, the mother’s voice is shown to have a calming effect.
  • Throughout history, songs and music have been a big part of child rearing, as beloved lullabies, rhymes, and dances are passed down from one generation to another. Pick a few lullabies and sing them often.
  • Singing to infants communicates love and security, helps to strengthen the bond between mother and child, and aid digestion while counteracting stresses.
  • Even if you believe that you are not a singer, repeatedly singing simple songs creates another level of familiarity and sense of safety for a child.
  • Remember to stay relaxed, to use a soft voice and keep a warm heart. Even if your baby only thanks you with tears and distress for a while, be patient. The lullabies will work their magic in time.
  • Sing during transition times such as naptime or feeding time to communicate that a change is happening.
  • Move, sway and dance while you sing. Encourage toddlers to move with you while singing.
  • As the developing child becomes more and more aware of their bodies, movement with music becomes even more important. Children need to move so that they become well acquainted with their bodies in order to learn how to hold still.
  • Transitioning from music with movement to just soothing music or even quiet time helps your child recognize when s/he is too stimulated and needs to take a break.

Don’t worry if your singing is not pitch perfect, just fake it until you get it! The surprise bonus you receive from singing and moving with your child will be the relaxation and calm you will feel from developing a deeper relationship with your child!

*Musikgarten Delivers: The Neuroscience of Music collection by Dr. Dee Coulter is available for $10 in the Product Catalog section of our Teacher Portal. Username and password are required. You may also contact Musikgarten at 800-216-6864 to purchase.

What Makes Music So Special? A Sneak Peek with Dee Coulter, Ed. D.

Sommerfest is coming up soon and we’re thrilled that our longtime friend and professional adviser, Dr. Dee Coulter, is presenting this year! Dr. Coulter is a nationally recognized neuroscience pioneer with a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education. She has studied the Musikgarten curriculum and has helped shape it into the program you know today.

We wanted to share a sneak peek of one of her sessions, What Makes Music So Special? in which Dr. Coulter explains the deep emotional, cognitive, and developmental gifts that music, and Musikgarten, offer to children and how to help parents discover its true value.

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This informative session is designed to help you grow as a teacher by deepening your understanding of how music and Musikgarten work. “Teachers who understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind the Musikgarten curriculum are more effective and have a greater impact. I’ve seen it time and time again; when teachers truly understand the neurological concepts at work they breathe a different kind of life into it…they teach with a different level of wisdom and confidence,” explains Dr. Coulter.

To experience What Makes Music So Special? for yourself, please join us August 21st in Charlotte, North Carolina for Sommerfest.

Attend this session and you’ll learn:

  1. How Musikgarten classes capture a child’s attention through a mix of high- and low-energy, visual, auditory, language and movement activities.
  1. About the neurologic and cognitive integrity of the Musikgarten curriculum and how music awakens different processes in a child’s developing brain.
  1. Why understanding how Musikgarten works will make you a better teacher and your classes more successful.
  1. How Musikgarten creates important mind-body awareness and can help build and improve impulse control in young children.
  1. The influence of music education on a child’s emotional intelligence and why this is important.
  1. The ways in which music helps develop positive character traits that have a lifelong impact.
  1. How music helps to “organize” the brain and why this matters.

Intrigued? Want to learn more? Join us at Sommerfest August 21st in Charlotte, North Carolina. You’ll meet, mingle, and expand your mind with Dr. Lorna Heyge, Dr. Dee Coulter, Musikgarten trainers and teachers. Here’s just a small sample of the exciting sessions we’ve planned for you:

  • What Makes Music So Special? and Putting Musikgarten on the Map with Dr. Dee Coulter
  • Mindful of the Past, Pointed Toward the Future with Dr. Lorna Heyge
  • Effective Teaching in Music Makers =
Putting the Musikgarten Philosophy Into Practice with Mary Louise Wilson
  • Convincing the Parents to Re-enroll: 
The One-Two-Punch of Parent Education with Jill Hannagan
  • Involving Parents Emotionally, Intellectually and Musically with Leilani Miranda
  • Helping Your Garten Grow: Building Your Musikgarten Program, the First Five Years and Beyond with Betha Christopher

Click here for more info on Sommerfest: Musikgarten in the 21st Century!

Ready to book? Click here or call 1.800.216.6864 to RSVP. Hotel rooms must be booked by July 22!

About Dee Coulter, Ed.D.

Dr. Dee Coulter is a nationally recognized neuroscience pioneer with a master’s degree in special education from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition to 14 years as a special education teacher and program director, she served on the faculty of Naropa University for 20 years. Click here to read more about Dee and her work.