Music impacts Language

Today’s blog is all about how music impacts language development in children.

Wriggle and Rhyme is a music programme for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers from 6 months – 6 years old.  Our mission is to introduce children to music-based activities in their early years, because:

  • music is such a fun and effective medium for learning!
  • music brings people together!

So, that’s exactly what our classes aim to do!

This blog is part of our series all about why #️⃣MUSICMATTERS.

As the years have passed, more and more research is being done on the effects of music on growing brains.  This research validates all our anecdotal experience from our classes, as we see the incredible effect that music has on the children participating in our musical adventures.

It would make sense to assume that SINGING SONGS, in particular, has a helpful part to play in language development – in terms of repetition, vocabulary extension, auditory memory, rhythm and rhyme – all of which are the building blocks of speech.  We see this constantly in our RHYMERS classes (for children from 18 month – 3 years old).

However, research indicates that MUSIC ITSELF contributes to speech, even before the words begin to be understood.

Music impacts Language – the Building Blocks …

“Infants listen first to sounds of language and only later to its meaning,” says Anthony Brandt.  Differentiating different sounds is one of the key components to language development.  Babies will start by gurgling and babbling to try and imitate their caregivers speech … these are the building blocks of language.  When you think about the structure of a song – its different musical components, such as tempo, timbre, dynamics – it makes sense why music is so effective in forming the “scaffolding” on which speech is then built.

Music impacts Language – Ready, Steady, Rhyme!

Many of the songs that we sing with our children, have a large component of rhyming words and alliteration.  These components of songs help with a baby’s phonological awareness.  Research tells us that the more rhyming that is incorporated into a child’s language from early on, the stronger the scaffolding for LITERACY will be later on.  This is linked to the strength of the child’s phonological awareness.

Music impacts Language – Sing along!

One of the most obvious benefits of singing words, rather than only using instrumental music-based activities, is the opportunity to introduce and extend a child’s vocabulary.  Because of the way that music impacts our memories, words are more readily embedded when they’re sung, rather than just said.  Have a look at our recent blog post on MEMORY if you’d like to read more about this subject.

Music impacts Language – Keep a Rhythm!

Nina Kraus and her  colleagues at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory of Northwestern University (USA) have been researching the links between rhythm, speech recognition and reading.  Over the course of their tests they found those who had more musical training not only kept better time, but had better neural responses to speech.  Conversely, children who were poor readers tended to have difficulty tapping a consistent beat. Time to pick up our drums and start to play in time to the music!


As always, there’s so much more that can be said on this subject.  The research is overwhelming!  But, one thing is for sure, music-based activities introduced from early on, can have a profound and lasting effect on a child’s language development.


Music impacts Language!  Just one of the many reasons why #️⃣MUSICMATTERS!