Music to Promote Early Language

  • Katy Mitchell
  • With thanks to Nicole Da Rocha

BATOD Foundation

Abstract / Introduction

This MESHGuide has been written for parents, early years practitioners and professionals working with very young children, to highlight the importance of music in the first five years of life.

The starting point is listening in the womb, where a baby responds to its mother’s voice as early as 16 weeks gestation (Shahidullah & Hepper, 1992). The rhythm and intonation experienced by a baby before birth, is the foundation of language.

Extensive and longitudinal studies have shown the positive impact of music on brain development and this work is ongoing. Research has shown that early experiences have a significant impact on brain development and that there is a sensitive period within the first three and a half years of a child’s life (Sharma et al. 2009). The first twelve months of life are critical for developing the sensory pathways, language and cognitive function (Nelson, 2000) and the rate at which the brain grows and develops in the first year of life, is greater than at other time after birth (Kretschmann et al. 1986).

Music is a tool for learning language and research has shown that music in the early years can benefit all areas of development.

This is one in a series of Deaf Education MESHGuides produced by the BATOD Foundation. Links are provided to the Understanding Hearing Loss MESHGuide, which provides information about the nature and degree of hearing loss, amplification and ways to help.

Strength of Evidence

The research in this field is extensive and conclusive. Looking at brain scans, to show the impact of listening to music, dates back to the 1980s. Research in this field is ongoing. Evidence for the information provided in this guide is collated in a full reference list.

Transferability across countries and settings

The information collated is intended to inform parents/carers, early years practitioners about the benefits of music for promoting early language development.

Information about the benefits of music in early development is globally relevant. Recommended songs are culturally specific to the UK.

Date of publication
8 Jun 2021
Date of revision
7 Jun 2022
Online community link

There are various online forums for Auditory Verbal therapists on platforms such as Facebook. The governing body of Auditory Verbal therapists is AG Bell.

There are various online forums for Teachers of the Deaf and parents of deaf children, in the UK and other parts of the world.  BATOD manages an email forum

To keep in touch with other developments, please register to join the MESHConnect general online community.