You’re in the kitchen cooking dinner with your little one coloring at the table nearby. You’re both chatting away as the radio plays softly in the background. One song ends and fades into the next, which happens to be your recent favorite.
Down goes your stirring spoon and up goes the volume on the radio as you pull your child to his or her feet. It’s time to dance.
Everyone appreciates the bonding time that music can bring. The benefits of music for you and your children are enormous- from the joy of dancing around the kitchen, to the peacefulness of a melody that helps concentration, to a favorite song on the radio that kick-starts a karaoke session in the car.
Not only can music build happy memories, but also it helps children learn and grow—both intellectually and socially.
Why learn music?
Music is one of the most common ‘languages’ around the world. People of all nationalities listen to, play, learn, and teach music and a variety of instruments.
Most children learn music skills, such as rhythm and melody, starting from pre-school or kindergarten, and continuing at least until secondary school. Many also learn an instrument with lessons outside school.
Did you know: Music is also a great tool for learning languages quickly, with many early language classrooms using music to help new language information ‘stick’ in children’s long term memory.
Music Education: Finding the Right Fit for Your Child
Music lessons of any type are beneficial to children in many ways. Singing, learning an instrument, and developing appreciation for different types of music are wonderful for helping children develop.
In all cases, music should be presented in a positive manner, and adults conducting the lessons should remain encouraging and set an appropriate course of instruction. A five year old child will not learn an instrument at the same rate as a ten year old child, and will not be able to spend as much time in practice.
Before embarking on a musical education, it is important to consider many factors:
• The age of the child.
• The individual preferences of the child.
• The child’s abilities and developmental level.
• Access to an instrument in the home.
• The amount of time available to practice the chosen musical art.
Finding the Right Instrument: Individual Preferences
For many young children, singing is a fun and appropriate way to learn music. Many children want to learn an instrument – follow the child’s lead and allow them to learn the instrument that appeals to them.
Finding the right instrument can be more difficult for younger children. As Kalyani cites her experience – “My six year old son was desperate to learn an instrument, but simply couldn’t decide what he would like to play. We read many books about different instruments, and he would simply declare, “I love ALL of them!” After some discussion, we decided to pursue the piano for several reasons: it can be played by a young child, and it helps children coordinate both hands. My son was extremely excited to learn to play!”
Determining the right methodology is important, too. Find a teacher and method that fits your child’s personality, developmental level, and temperament.
Take A Child’s Ability and Developmental Level Into Consideration
It is highly important to consider a child’s ability and developmental level when deciding on music lessons. Children with fine motor difficulties may get frustrated while trying to learn an instrument that requires finesse, and some children may simply be unable to learn to read music at the age of five. Before starting instrument lessons, ask the following questions about your child:
• Can my child sit for a thirty minute stretch of time?
• Does my child have the coordination and hand strength to be successful at this instrument?
• Does my child have the necessary math skills to learn this instrument?
• Does my child want to learn this instrument?
Making Time for Practice
Learning a musical instrument is not only a financial investment. Time, and a lot of it, is required to learn any instrument. Ensure there is a sufficient amount of time in each day to allow for practices.
Kalyani further reiterates –“In our house, we have a rule that the television cannot be turned on until the piano is practiced and any homework is done. Our son also plays hockey and various other sports throughout the year, so our schedule is fairly full. To keep the number of activities from getting out of hand, we have allow each of our children to have “one sport and one art” at any one time. Our little boy has a lot of initiative and often wants to sign up for every sport or class available, but we limit him to one sport in addition to his piano. He still needs time for free play, and any additional activities would simply be overwhelming.”
All children should be given the opportunity to learn music at some level, and music education should be a positive experience, led by an encouraging music teacher and parents.