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Music the Tutor: Part 3 – Sports and Athletics

(Photo credit – ‘Ready, Set, Go’ by Nicholas Burningham)


Part 2 of our back to school series discussed the role of music in bettering children’s language and literacy. Our third segment discusses how music helps children with fine and gross motor development, specifically in areas of sports and athletics.


Key to sports and athletic performance is motor skills. Fine and gross motor skills are developed through learning and practice. Gross motor skills are large muscle movements such as catching and throwing, and running and climbing. Musical rhythms and participation helps build gross motor skills. For example, sing-along-songs such as Wheels on the Bus encourage children to move up and down. Music and movement activities can encourage children to gain awareness of how their bodies interact in space and time.


On the other hand, fine motor skills are smaller and controlled precise movements. These fine motor skills can differentiate players from athletes.


Playing a musical instrument is creative technique to help develop fine motor skills. For example, playing the piano strengthens finger dexterity, and playing the guitar or drums encourages hand-eye coordination. These may translate to better timing (Kincaid, Duncan and Scott, 2002) control, coordination, and spactial awareness (Pietsch and Jansen, 2012).


For teenagers, music may help improve sports performance by igniting and sustaining motivation, as well as fighting physical and mental fatigue (Brownley, McMurray and Hackney, 1993). Research shows that listening to fast, upbeat music during sports activities can increase performance for trained athletes (Brownley, McMurray and Hackney, 1993; Edworthy and Waring, 2006).


Fun Fact: Here are some professional sports athletes who play off the field:

  • Travor Pryce (football, Broncos) plays the bass and piano.
  • Jack Nichalson (pro golfer) plays the piano
  • Bernie Williams (baseball, New York Yankees) plays the guitar.
  • Eddie Basinski (baseball, Brooklyn Dodgers) plays the violin, fiddle style.
  • Denny McLain (baseball, Detroit Tigers) plays the organ.
  • Matt Lashoff (hockey) plays the guitar.
  • Zachary Yuan (hockey, Winnipeg Jets) plays the piano.


Accent Music Therapy’s GLEE Group sessions are held on Wednesdays at 6:30pm will offer participants 14-18 years of age the opportunity to integrate dancing and movement, building physical strength and coordination. Our Jump & Jam groups are always a hit for younger clients aged 3-5 years. Contact admin@accentmusictherapy.com to register your name on our Winter group waitlist!

Stay tuned for our final Part 4 (Interpersonal Communications) of our four-part back to school series!

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