The 5 senses and music

Music can change brain activity in a remarkable way. This is one of the recent discoveries of science, made possible by the use of tools (such as MRI and electroencephalogram) that allow the electrical activity of neurons to be examined.

Music and the sounds of language

Scientific studies show that children absorb the acoustic structure of their mother tongue, the rhythm and phonemes (the sounds of a language) in the same way as they listen to music.

In other words, for the child, language is a concert of sounds and syllables marked by melody and rhythm. The newborn perceives language as a particular kind of music.

When we say “my little darling”, the child hears “my little darling” as a melody. This melody consists of sounds (the phonemes: “m” and “i” for example), rhythm and intonation.

We learn a language through its musicality. In fact, music and language have a similar structure

  • The musical note is the phoneme ;
  • The pitch of the sound (low or high) corresponds to the tone ;
  • The timbre is the equivalent of the intonation ;
  • The melody of the music corresponds to the prosody (the variations in rate, emphasis and rhythm of speech).

Listening to music therefore plays an essential role in language acquisition.

From the age of one, the child specialises in the language(s) in which it has been immersed. Their auditory system is shaped by the sound and language environment around them. The ear and the brain specialise in what they hear in particular between 0 and 1 year.

Professor and researcher Stanislas Dehaene states: “When he (the baby) blows out his first candle, he has already laid the foundations of the main rules of his mother tongue, at all levels, from elementary sounds (phonemes) to melody (prosody), vocabulary (the mental lexicon) and grammar rules (syntax).

“5 senses for kids Foundation” recommends that you talk to your child as often as possible. Sing songs in your mother tongue. Make the most of this first year when the child is learning the basics of language.

Preparing to learn foreign languages

Every language has a language frequency band. Music, on the other hand, uses our entire frequency sensitivity up to 20,000 hertz and much more. It therefore makes greater demands on our auditory capacity than language.

This is why it is important to let your child hear foreign languages and music from other countries during the early years.

Each child is born with a universal hearing ability, before his or her ear specialises on the mother tongue. Since the ear adapts and picks up frequencies in its environment, the environment must be rich in sound and music. By allowing your child to be immersed in this varied sound environment, you will facilitate his or her learning, particularly the assimilation of foreign languages.

The 5 senses and music

Music has a special place for “5 senses for kids Foundation”. It allows us to work on each sensory channel. Here are the contributions of music to the 5 senses.

Vision :

  • Seeing musical instruments: colour, texture, shape, size
  • Seeing musicians holding musical instruments in photographs
  • Seeing parents, nursery professionals (and teachers at school) holding instruments, possibly playing them
  • See other children dancing to the music, playing the instruments

Music allows for work on :

  • Observation
  • Imitation
  • Expanding one’s “knowledge” of shapes, textures and colours


  • Development of the ear in terms of sounds and phonemes for language
  • The ability to concentrate
  • Ability to memorise
  • Vocabulary (names of musical instruments, musical genres, types of dance…)
  • Learning vocabulary through songs
  • Listening skills
  • Discovering, expressing and managing the emotions of music through listening


  • Touching musical instruments (texture, different elements of instruments such as strings, holes in a flute, the shape of instruments)

Music allows for work around :

  • Grasping objects of different sizes and shapes
  • Adapting movements and the way in which the elements are held

Smell and taste:

When music is associated with the discovery of scents and flavours from different countries, it creates a particular atmosphere for tasting, which conditions the child to “feel” in another culture. They will then associate sounds, tastes and smells with that particular culture.

Music and movement

Music plays an important role in learning motor skills.

The following skills can be developed:

  • Adapting movement to the rhythm of music
  • Adapting movement to a group rhythm
  • Imitating gestures
  • Feeling the internal pulse (basis for socialisation)
  • Finding one’s place in a group and standing out from a group by proposing another gesture, another idea

Learning rhythm will play a role in socialisation and openness to others. “Music engenders synchronisation behaviour,” explains teacher-researcher Emmanuel Bigand. Rhythm prepares children for social relations, trust in others and empathy.

Music, an asset in learning

Music engages the whole brain. This is why it can claim to be the most complete art form.

“Music stabilises mental, physical and emotional rhythms, allowing a state of focus and deep concentration to be achieved, in which large amounts of information can be processed and learned,” says Chris Boyd Brewer, an expert on music and learning.

Numerous studies by neuroscientists have shown that listening to and playing music creates millions of connections in the brain.

“5 senses for kids Foundation” encourages you to play music with your children. And if you have the opportunity, organise activities with musical instruments. Let them touch instruments and play music with them. Play music from all over the world, especially in the first year of life.

Not only will you encourage the child’s senses, but you will also facilitate language learning, socialisation, cognitive development, etc.