Unstructured play on the playground is an integral part of every child’s development — social, emotional, physical and cognitive. Playing (and listening to) musical instruments can also be beneficial to these same aspects of a child's development. Music enriches the lives of children and enhances their learning and growth; so adding musical instruments on the playground enhances the overall play experience.
Here are 4 major ways musical instruments can aid in a child's development:
Social Skills: Musical instruments on the playground encourage cooperative play where the kids practice taking turns and working together. It also helps hone necessary skills like listening and being respectful of others, and it helps kids build a sense of belonging among their peers.
Motor Skills: Playing musical instruments helps with the development of motor skills. Visual-motor (hand-eye coordination), auditory (hearing the music), tactile (feeling the vibrations of the music) and physical (coordination and balance while standing and/or dancing while playing the music).
Cognitive Skills: Creating and listening to music actually stimulates multiple parts of the brain: the limbic system (stimulating emotions), the cerebellum (balance, rhythm and coordination), the cerebrum (memorization and visualization) and the auditory cortex (responds to sound frequencies). Listening to and playing music is actually exercise for the brain — and we all want our brains to be in tip-top shape!
Creative Expression: Both listening to and playing musical instruments encourage creativity. Kids can experiment and improvise when trying to play songs and different sounds. Music stimulates the imagination, making for a more creative and entertaining play environment.
Adding music to an outdoor space can be as simple as one instrument. However, to truly benefit developmentally and socially, building an ensemble of instruments will increase the amount of opportunities for the kids playing. You don't have to add a whole ensemble at once; start now and add them in phases to build a wonderful sensory component to any play environment.
Upgrading a playground with outdoor musical instruments not only adds a new, fun element to the playground, but it also adds extra learning opportunities for the children who are visiting the playground. Park Place Recreation partners with two vendors who sell outdoor muscial instruments: Miracle Recreation (Concerto) and Freenotes Harmony Park.