Music and handwriting are peas in a pod!
Really? Do they even relate at all??? Actually… yes!!
Let’s start with relating music and movement. THAT’s a pretty easy connection to make. Music starts and your toe starts tapping or your head starts moving to the beat. Do we even think about it? NO! We are neurologically wired so that our bodies respond to music! Pretty cool! There are even studies that show connections between moving specific parts of the body in response to certain timbre and rhythm in music. Something that their study showed was that people move their heads more in response to “low frequency spectral flux” (like kick drum and bass guitar)—so, imagine fans of Metallica or Slipknot moving their heads to the music/ head-banging. Pulse clarity (or a clear beat) was closely correlated with a variety of movements; the clearer the beat, the more body parts people moved (head, hands, hips, etc.).
“Interesting, but let’s get back to talking about handwriting…”
So, we understand that music is related to movement (more on movement and learning in the next blog). But, how is it related to handwriting?? Actually, we could answer this question in different ways.
#1 Music is fun, and kids will learn handwriting much more easily if they’re having fun: We know that we all learn more easily when we are internally motivated and inspired. One way that we love to use music is in preparation for handwriting—moving in synchrony with our kids (as a group or with individual children) to the music while teaching spatial concepts like TOP and BOTTOM. Check out our video of one of the songs Brady Rymer wrote for us!
#2 Music inspires movement of the whole body, not just the fingers, and we know that when we move more of our body, more of our brain is activated. We teach letter formation using musical tones (see #3 for a more detailed explanation), and always start with whole body movement, then move to writing on a vertical surface, and ultimately use pencil-to-paper writing.
#3 Music gives a sensory cue about spatial concepts/ movement without the learner needing to process language: In our patent-pending program, each letter has music that accompanies the formation of the letter. Children learn that if they hear a high note, the letter is starting at the top. If the next tone is low, they will make a line down. There are different tones for different types of lines, as well. It may make more sense if you check out our video demonstrating formation of the letter “S.”
So, are you convinced? Music and handwriting: a match made in heaven!
Try it out!
Are your kids getting frustrated during handwriting practice? Try sound effects!
As you are teaching kids how to create letters, use noises that help the kids to understand how to form the letters (and reduces the need to use words). A lot of us already do this automatically. Think about what noises will give the best cues to your children about how to make the shapes needed to form the letters (eg, what sounds like a curve?). Also- have the kids create sound effects as they are creating the letters. We've found that this really motivates kids and helps them to be more invested in writing, and to learn writing more easily!
Having trouble coming up with sound effects?....We have made them for you. Check it out!
Carrie Davis and Michele Parkins are occupational therapists and co-founders of CEW