By Dr. Sally
For years early childhood specialists have been telling us about the benefits of music for young children. For years they have been right! Music does so many good things for children that it is hard to enumerate all of them… but I will try!
Let’s start with classical.
A. High Quality
Musical geniuses like Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and many others created these pieces by writing them down in musical terms. Imagine what it must have been like for them in their times to be able to hear their works of art performed by live orchestras!
It takes much repetition to be able to recognize, appreciate, and learn this kind of music. With every repetition, new neuron connections in the brain are formed, and older ones get stronger. More and stronger connections in the brain are what add to brain size and its ability to function well.
C. Mathematical Ability
There are two theories related to this concept. One is that the section of the brain that learns music is very close to the part that learns mathematics. The other is that the brain part for logic is the same for learning both mathematics and music.
Learning to recognize different pieces and different parts of pieces takes concentration. Concentrating on anything has carry-over to other areas.
E. Calming Effect
Listening to soft music reduces stress and is conducive to relaxation.
There are many ways to enjoy classical music with your child. Here are some of my favorites.
A. Make classical music part of your child’s day. Choose a piece that you like. Then play it for your child whenever you find a good time. Use it to provide background music while playing, eating, or just relaxing. Start with one piece and continue to enjoy it until you both reach a point where you want to add another selection.
B. Choose a piece of ethnic music to use in a similar way. A high quality selection will have many of the same benefits outlined above. In addition, it will add a dimension of cultural identity.
C. Pick a soothing piece for your child for bedtime. Play the same piece over and over, and then choose another selection when you feel a change would be welcomed.
Now it’s time to turn our attention to the benefits of all music.
Each different kind has its own value. Here are some general attributes that you can count on to enrich your child’s life in one way or another.
Along with the multitudes of music to choose from and enjoy with your child comes the opportunity to experience a variety of different feelings. Loud and fast selections set the stage for action. Soft and slow ones have a calming effect.
There are so many other variations in between.
Sing-a-long selections are great for teaching your child to carry a tune and enjoy music in an active way. Singing with you is good practice too.
Introduce dancing to your child. It provides both enjoyment and exercise. It also fosters both rhythm and creativity.
Join in the fun whenever you want.
Simple child instruments are available. You can also make your own out of small plastic bottles or jars filled with dry beans or rice. Playing instruments along with music turns ordinary listening into active participation.
Teach your child as much as you can about different kinds of music and instruments. The more your child knows, the better he or she will be able to progress in the world of music.
“Variety is the spice of life,” and that applies to music too!
There are many highly successful activities to do with children.
Here are a few of my favorites. These and others are fully explained in the book Make Your Own Preschool Games.
1. Drawing to Music – Have your child capture through art what the particular piece brings to mind.
2. Singing-a-Long – Write down words to songs your child knows and point to the words as you both sing together.
3. Making up Songs – Make up words to common tunes to help your child learn simple facts like his or her telephone number, address, or other important