How Music Enhances Problem-Solving Skills In Children

Problem-solving is a life-skill that is essential to success. Being able to look at a situation and identify a pattern, obstacles, and most importantly a solution, is something that we all face, every day. Music can make this learning process so much more enjoyable while supporting problem-solving skills! 

The Power Of Musical Problem-Solving

We know that development happens all the time and has no schedule – every interaction is an opportunity for personal development. To find examples of problem-solving, we’ve looked at the Ages & Stages Questionnaire to find out what you can expect to see in children from as young as 2 months old. 

Babies from 2 months will often look at nearby objects, follow people with their eyes and try to move towards nearby toys, showing their interest in their ability to interact with the people and things around them. As they get older and begin to grasp things, they start to put things in their mouths, exploring the taste and texture of the things around them, even banging them on nearby surfaces. 

By 9 months, babies continue to explore their environment by trying to get things out of clear containers, and finding things “hidden” under paper or fabric. They may pass a toy from hand to hand, or bang toys together if they have a toy in each hand, showing their growing ability to control their environment. 

By 12 months, babies will try to copy adults putting toys into a box or dropping them into a container. They may even copy scribbling on paper with a crayon, or use another object to get a toy just out of reach, learning better ways to do things. 

Building Confidence And Resilience For Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving gives children the confidence to be independent in every situation they encounter. And musically, singing is an opportunity for children to problem-solve language, timing and melody. As a life-skill, singing can improve and protect from so many health conditions, and here are a few songs to introduce! 

Mary, Mary 

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row 

This little nursery rhyme has a number of potential histories, ranging from a dark political commentary of Mary Queen of Scots through to a religious interpretation of Mary, mother of Jesus. And just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we can choose to sing this simple song literally according to the words in it. With the summer months being a little warmer, it is a lovely song to teach children, either while gardening or – indoors if raining – imitating gardening actions, just as the words suggest. Children could be given the challenge to create a garden as described in the song, to work together to create a ‘Mary garden’. And as an added bonus, there is some evidence that plants thrive with music, so you may end up with a more beautiful garden, too! 


To my lullaby surrender,
Warm and tender is my breast;
Mother’s arms with love caressing
Lay their blessing on your rest;
Nothing shall tonight alarm you,
None shall harm you, have no fear;
Lie contented, calmly slumber
On your mother’s breast my dear  

Here tonight I tightly hold you
And enfold you while you sleep
Why, I wonder, are you smiling
Smiling in your slumber deep
Are the angels on you smiling
And beguiling you with charm
While you also smile, my blossom
In my bosom, soft and warm? 

Have no fear now, leaves are knocking
Gently knocking at our door
Have no dear now, waves are beating
Gently beating on the shore
Sleep, my darling, none shall harm you
Nor alarm you, ever will
And beguiling those on high 

This classic Welsh lullaby has become better known through beautiful performances by Aled Jones and Charlotte Church. English translations can be found everywhere, but this is a particularly lovely poetic translation. Both the lovely tune of this song and the timing of it imitate the motion of rocking. This makes it perfect as a song for comforting children in potentially stressful situations where they may be hurt, sad, missing someone, or even going to sleep. Even holding little ones against your chest and just humming the tune can share peaceful reassurance and bring comfort and calm. 

Stand By Me

Ben E. King 

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see 

 And I won’t be afraid
I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me 

 So darling, darling, stand by me
Oh, stand by me, oh stand
Stand by me, stand by me 

 If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountain should crumble in the sea 

 I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me 

 So darling, darling, stand by me
Oh, stand by me, oh stand
Stand by me, stand by me 

This modern lullaby is quickly becoming a classic song that celebrates friendship and community. Celebrating the far-reaching benefits of social support, the vivid words use imagery that young and old can relate to, like dark nights, mountains and sea. The chorus evokes feelings of love and support, which will only mean more and more to children as they grow older and begin to understand more of the language used. This song could be played to children to sing along while working on group activities where each child’s contribution adds to a bigger project or picture. Ideas could include each child creating painted hand-prints to make the wings of a giant butterfly, or each child colouring different parts of a picture to create a giant mural. 

Problem-solving is quickly becoming an essential skill that gives us a head-start the sooner it is learnt. It relies on developing effective communication skills that are learnt through experience with kind and caring adults. And using music makes it all so much more fun and easy to enhance problem-solving skills ! 

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