Do you believe it is important to surround your children with music and encourage them to develop their mini musician skills? Have you ever watched your child’s reaction when their favourite song comes on? They instantly begin to hum along as their eyes light up and their feet start to tap. Oddly enough, much of their foot tapping coincides with the rhythm of the song playing and we, as proud parents, attribute that to our own dancing “skills”. Psychologists believe that this is, in fact, their brain reacting to the music and that the effect of music plays an even more important role in their development besides the obvious physical one.
Research indicates that early exposure to music can lead to a child excelling in their studies, a significant boost in their self-confidence and the advanced development of their aural and auditory skills. Music contributes to what experts call “a rich sensory environment.” This rich sensory environment exposes your child to a wide variety of tastes, smells, textures, colours and sounds. By introducing your children to music during their early years, you are doing more than entertaining them, you are kick starting the learning process and building lifelong skills that are thought to be critical to maths and reading in the years to come.
Just the simple act of listening to music while they play or relax can make a difference to a child’s developmental process. And when a child actively participates in musical activities, an even more impressive impact is made. We can watch and listen to our children and see that music is very important to them. It brings out certain emotions and memories that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives just as music has done for every one of us.
Many parents have found that when their children are upset or distraught, playing music or singing to them soothes them and provides an almost instant calming effect. Some children will even sing to themselves when they are feeling upset and although they only have a handful of words or phrases, they can often sing an entire song and be completely understood.
Beyond listening to music and singing along, young children can participate by shaking hand bells or bell sticks or any other instrument that enables them to make sounds and create rhythms. At Jack and Jills Wooden Toys, we have often seen parents pick up Squeakaboos, squeezing and shaking them in their babies’ faces, who react with squeals of delight as they grab the toy and give it a shake.
Just as adults learn to associate sounds with events, so do toddlers. At a recent Christmas fair, one child was rattling her handbells as she was pushed around the hall, while other children gathered thinking Santa had arrived!
Between the ages of 1 and 3 children can sporadically keep time with and have improved response to music as many of their toys are now being transformed into musical instruments. This helps them learn to keep a steady beat and make coordinated movements. At the age of 3, the world becomes their musical oyster! Instruments like Melissa and Doug’s Learn to Play Piano, colourful xylophones and other toy instruments help your children move to the next stage of creating music by teaching them to sequence notes, sing along and improve their hand to eye co-ordination.
The natural progression for many is to learn to play an actual musical instrument. This will enable them to avoid the recorder practice so many music teachers are fond of and let them avoid the sound of 35 recorders playing all at once!
“Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.” –Paul Simon