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BCI Burke Playground

Integrating Music Into Play

Music is a universal language. Because it transcends both cultural and linguistic barriers, it transforms playspaces into enriching, dynamic worlds filled with sensory experiences that are easily accessible to all people. 

As we commemorate World Music Day on June 21 (and World Music Month throughout June), we are taking a closer look at the benefits of blending music and play — and the simple ways you can integrate music into children’s outdoor spaces.

“There is a growing body of empirical and experimental research on the broader benefits of musical activity,” observed the journal Frontiers in Psychology in 2022. “Research in music sciences suggests that successful musical engagement can positively affect many aspects of human life, including the physical, social, educational and psychological (cognitive and emotional) dimensions.” 

Clearly, bringing music into playspaces is worth it. According to a 2018 report in Science Daily, music improves children’s memory, attention and language skills and may also have a positive impact on performance in math and reading. 

A 2022 study from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) noted that children involved in musical activities demonstrated greater emotional resilience. What’s more, music encourages group activities such as singing and dancing, which improve social and motor skills while also helping children build stronger relationships with each other.

The Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies, funded by the Academy of Finland, agrees. In 2021, the center noted that playful spaces with musical elements enhance well-being, social interaction and cognitive development, and “are essential for holistic child development.” 

So, where do we start? How can we create these engaging spaces for our kids?

One option is to install outdoor musical instruments, such as drums and keyboards, that are constructed with durable, weatherproof materials. Be sure to position them at different heights so they will be welcoming to children of all ages and abilities.

You also can create a sound garden with natural elements like hollow logs, bamboo poles and wind chimes. This sensory-rich environment will encourage creativity and hands-on exploration.

Depending on the layout of the play space, you might be able to design a musical pathway of stepping stones or pads that produce different sounds with touch or pressure. As the children step and jump, they will be developing their coordination and rhythm.

Finally, incorporate open areas for dancing and movement. Consider providing dance mats for structured activities, or even props like scarves and ribbons in school or play group environments; children will be delighted to have new opportunities to experiment with expressive movement.

And it’s not just about the kids; playspaces are ideally suited to bring generations together. According to a report in Playground Professionals magazine, “Research shows that children who play with adults demonstrate greater creativity and higher levels of language and problem-solving skills (and) adults who engage in play with children experience dramatic psychological and health benefits such as reduced stress, improved mood, greater cognitive skills and enhanced relationships.”

Those benefits are enhanced with the addition of music. No matter how we choose to integrate it, we are creating an environment that encourages creativity, relationship-building and wellness — and we are ensuring that all people have access to the developmental advantages and sheer joy that music provides.

Explore the ways Burke can help you integrate music into your playspaces. Contact your nearest Burke representative for more information on the exclusive PlayEnsemble collection of outdoor musical instruments.