Hungarian educator and musician Zoltan Kodaly once said a person could not be complete without music.
Kodaly believed that a focus on learning through engagement with music, singing, playing, moving, and enjoyment, music became part of the natural learning process.
Walk into any early learning centre in Australia and you will find this theory put into action.
Give a child a pot, a pan and a wooden spoon – or even their own hands, feet and voice – and music can be made. It might not always sound superb; but who are we to judge if there is joy and learning to be had?
CQUniversity Music and Theatre head of program and CQ Conservatorium Director Professor Judith Brown says a child's musical experience is only enhanced when those around them – teachers, parents, carers, family, and community – are active in nurturing the musical experience.
"Music is intrinsic," Professor Brown says.
"Even the 'nah, nah, nah-nah, nah' children sing in the playground is a minor third and it's pitched as speaking. It is everywhere.
"Kids are uninhibited about singing because it is just another way of making a sound.
"We put a lot of other stuff around that and somehow we manage to block this thing that is singing.
“We put social constraints around it 'because we look silly' but in those early years, children can freely express themselves through singing while developing rhythm, movement, and language."
Music engages the senses
Charles Darwin University’s, Early Childhood senior lecturer Dr Georgie Nutton believes the ways children engage with music can provide a framework across their entire life.
"Music is an embodied learning experience; that is whether they are playing, composing or listening,” Dr Nutton says.
"They are using all of their senses and learning more and more language skills."
As well as the intellectual and academic benefits, music is enabling children to identify, understand and, to a degree, process emotions.
The experience of music means children are using all of their senses – the auditory, physical and use of voice – and this then brings about a response from the child.
Dr Nutton says a diversity of music – for rest time, morning play, or other daily routines and activities – lends an integrated approach.
She says music is a powerful tool which bridges age, ability, cultural and diversity gaps.
"It doesn’t matter, for instance, what mix of emotions a child feels when they hear a piece of music.
"Rather, it is about identifying the emotion the music brings out and being able to tap into that and better understand it. Then, a loving and caring adult will support that experience with the appropriate language around their reaction and response. That scaffolding is critical.”