Could active music making offer the key to tackling the ‘school ready’ attainment gap? A guest blog from Boogie Mites

The most recent neuroscientific studies, into the effects of active music
making on brain development in early years, show that regular involvement in
active music making significantly impact IQ and communication skills.  It
has also been shown that every child with healthy brain development in early
years is born with the innate potential to benefit from music’s brain
boosting potential. It is a myth that you are born with  no talent for
music. Lack of a sense of rhythm or pitch is due to lack of practise in
early years when the neural connections are being made. We also know from
studies that active music making supports phonemic awareness, language,
literacy, co- ordination, physical fitness, maths, memory, social and
emotional development – all of those important ‘school ready’ skills.

So why are parents and practitioners in early years widely unaware of this?
Our experience at Boogie Mites shows us that due to very poor music
education generally for adults in this country, the majority of adults have
no confidence in their own ability to lead the simple music activities that
can harness these brain boosting benefits. Also there is little or no music
included in teacher training and it gets little mention in the Early Years Foundation Stage. They
have been led to believe that only a qualified musician visiting the more
affluent settings can lead inspiring music making with their children and
they generally stick to nursery rhymes and traditional songs which do not
inspire or engage and cannot harness all the benefits available.

So, as a priority, we need to spread the message, train our early years
practitioners and parents to understand these benefits, to know that they
can do it, to access inspiring age appropriate music resources that will
motivate and engage both adults and children, to practise as a shared
activity regularly from birth to 5 years.  This could reduce the school
ready attainment gap between children from more affluent background and
those from poorer background, better preparing the brain with the capacity
to listen, learn and communicate through the power of music.

Boogie Mites have spent the last 10 years compiling music programmes and
training workshops that contain original  songs and musical activities
specifically aimed at engaging, motivating, educating, adults to introduce
music making to support development in early years. The activities are
‘adult led’ initially but soon become fun shared, child initiated activities
thanks to the power of a strong beat and catchy melody. No expensive props
or instruments are needed. Boogie Mites use home made, ‘junk’ percussion
instruments and props.  Having built the confidence and practise of music making in the settings the next step is to involve parents and encourage them to practise at home.

Boogie Mites parent education programmes and training impact parents and
practitioners confidence, knowledge and regular home practice. See the
Chichester University Research Study (Nikki Fairchild 2012).

 Boogie Mites have compiled parent workshop packs – Nursery Ready (1-3 years) and School Ready (3- 5 years) which can be purchased from the I CAN shop.