If you were to ask my 4th grade orchestra teacher why he dedicated his life to teaching young children how to play stringed instruments, I assure you his answer would not be, “because it sounds so pretty.” Talking to him later on in life, he would say he loved the change he got to see in children. “You can see something light up,” when the kids are really learning and getting into the music, when they get immersed in their own world of creating, music makes a difference in their lives. Incorporating music into your child’s life has tremendous benefits, from infancy into adulthood. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be musically inclined yourself in order to encourage music in your child’s life. There are many activities and programs, even ones that won’t break the bank, to help along the way.
Music Makes A Difference In Children’s Lives
Music makes a difference, especially early on
Research shows that musical ability and comprehension is gained most successfully between the window of infancy to age 9. Think of learning to read or play music like learning a language, doing so the older we get becomes increasingly more difficult. What is most important during this time is learning the building blocks of music, the patterns and rhythms. The “types” of music they are exposed to (jazz, r&b, gospel, country music, etc) is similar to picking up an accent. It will become how they understand and hear music. Eventually they will most likely emulate that style when, or if, they play an instrument or sing.
Music makes a difference in growth and development
Incorporating music into your child’s life is not about forcing a path for them, musical practices are beneficial and therapeutic to everyone (yes sports enthusiast included. It doesn’t HAVE to be a war , sports vs. music, in fact they actually work beautifully together.) Simply incorporating music into everyday play has benefits.
- Singing, listening, and dancing along with music from a young age will help prepare young children for formal learning later on.
- Simple play with musical instruments promotes fine motor skill development in infants and toddlers. It engages eyes, ears, as well as big and small muscles, engaging multiple skill sets that make the brain work harder.
- Listening to songs and singing can actually help young children who are struggling with speech development.
- Music improves memory and cognitive function. Songs often help facilitate everyday chores and remembering fundamental basics (ABC’s and counting).
- Creative and emotional outlet, even for young children is important, and can be engaged with musical play time
Encouraging your child to learn an instrument or enrolling them in lessons, singing included, has extra benefits as well:
- Increased discipline and patience. Two qualities that are increasingly lacking in our society. Becoming proficient at reading music and playing require a lot of consistent practice and dedication.
- The process of learning and “mastering,” (age-appropriately), a song or instrument helps shape learning confidence. Being able to perform for parents and piers teaches that there is a pay-off to working hard towards a goal.
- Children who play an instrument typically do better in the subjects of reading and math
- Children learning an instrument or singing at school can help them open up socially. Long-lasting friendships are often built through these disciplines as they are working towards achievement as a team and spend a lot of time together, even outside of regular school hours.
- Young adults participating in music programs are less likely to get into trouble, use drugs or alcohol, and have a higher graduation rate.
Ways to introduce music to your child
Private lessons may be ideal for ultra-focused learning of a musical instrument, but they can come with a hefty price tag. Not all children will want to pursue the instrument of choice later on in life which is why less expensive options may be best for unsure kids. Young children don’t need any fancy equipment to explore and experience making music. Here are some tips and activities that will help allow music to create a difference in your child’s life:
- Take advantage of travel time and morning/night routines to have music playing for your child. Sing lullabies when soothing or make songs to go along with daily actives (tying shoes, bath time, cleaning up, etc) Don’t worry, babies are pretty nonjudgmental when it comes to your singing voice. You can’t beat the classics like good ol’ Raffi songs, either. There are tons of free online music sources for kids.
- You’d be surprised the amount of things around the house kids can use to make “music.” Better yet you can tailor make-shift instruments to your sanity level. It’s a classic, but pots and pans make a perfect, indestructible (and bearable) drum set. Kleenex boxes and rubber bands make a great guitar/violin. But they also make pretty cool age appropriate “instruments” that aren’t too pricey.
- Check with your local orchestra about reduced or free kid’s shows. Many times orchestras will give special performances in the morning just for kids at a reduced price or completely free. What’s even better is that you don’t have to worry about any fussiness ruining an adult evening out during the kid-friendly show.
- If you’re affiliated with a church, check with their children’s ministry department. Often they have youth choirs set-up, or opportunities for the youth to sing with the adults periodically.
- Some stores or programs through schools allow you to rent instruments, or rent-to-own for your child. This may be a better option before buying an instrument out right if you want to give your child a trial period first, or if your child may need to graduate to a larger sized instrument as they grow.
How has music made a difference in your child’s life? Let us know!