Music and its relationship to the mental and social development of children has captured the attention of parents, teachers, and researchers for a very long time. The benefits and power of music making for young children has been studied and the results strongly suggest we start making music a part of every child's life.
The good news is you don’t need to be a musician (or musical at all for that matter) to introduce your child to making music. For very young children, making music at home has better results than formal lessons – it also costs nothing and can begin at any age.
A study of over 3000 children by the University of Queensland found that regular informal music-making with children under 3 years old may have benefits above and beyond those of reading.
This research also discovered that the best results come from shared musical play in the home.
The study concluded that regular musical play from the age of 2 can lead to better literacy, numeracy, and emotion regulation. Additionally, the impact of musical activity had a strong link to positive social behaviour and attention regulation.
These findings were based on situations where the child’s musical activities were informal and shared, typically with a parent – essentially a playful and fun experience. The true benefit of musical play lies in the wonderful blend of creativity, sound, and face-to-face interaction.
Being playful with sound is something we’re all born with. The simple pleasure of making sound is available to us all, using whatever tools we have.
From motor skills to memory skills, music ignites all areas of child development and invites the body and mind to work together. In song, children are exposed to new sounds and words placed in a different context. Dancing is also a natural outcome as children move to the beat – building their gross motor skills as they do.
WHERE DO YOU START?
The first place to start is with the human voice, (remember your baby is not Simon Cowell judging your ability!) All that matters is having fun.
Babies recognize the melody of a song long before they understand the words. Simple short songs that you can repeat over and over are best. Try making up one or two lines about bathing, dressing, or eating, that you can sing while you do these activities.
Toddlers love to dance and move to music. The key to toddler music is repetition, which encourages language and memorization. Try singing a familiar song and inserting a silly word in the place of the correct word, like “Mary had a little spider” instead of lamb. Add in some percussion instruments from the kitchen cabinets. Perhaps whistles and bells could follow, even a toy piano for the more ambitious. Give your child a drum (pot and wooden spoon) to practice a rhythm.
Pre-schoolers enjoy singing for singings sake. They enjoy repeated words and melodies, and songs with instructions. Look online for examples and ideas of how to incorporate actions and instruments.
Forget the Mozart Effect and Baby Einstein,
you can be your child’s first music teacher. Unlocking the power of music making
with your child starts at home.
Posted: Monday 22 May 2023