In some schools and groups, music can be thought of as superfluous and unessential. However, research has shown a wide range of benefits for those who listen to and make music. These benefits can include pain management, emotional health, self-esteem, and stress reduction. Many children feel a natural pull toward music, and most parents want to encourage that ability. Parents can start with simple games with young children to set the foundation for music appreciation later in life. As a child grows, parents can go further in supporting and encouraging this important activity. It is important to note that supporting music can look like a range of activities, from playing music for babies to attending full recitals.
Benefits of Learning Music
Encouraging children of all ages to participate in music comes with many benefits.
Younger children can benefit from using music to learn special awareness and motor skills.
If learning about music is paired with learning dance, children can learn about fun physical activities they can carry on throughout their lives.
Starting younger children in music can expose them to new cultures and other people, creating a more rounded individual.
Children learning about music also show increases in cognitive, emotional, and language development.
As children get older, they can also benefit from more dedicated musical study.
By learning an instrument, children learn a system of dedication, structure, and discipline; this benefits children of all ages, including children with special needs.
By sticking with music study, children experience a complete reward system in which they learn how to start something, keep practicing, and stick with a process to see it through.
Additionally, learning skills creates a sense of accomplishment and increased self-regard.
Finally, those children who participate in music, especially a school music group, are less likely to drop out of school.
How to Encourage Love of Music
For younger children, there are a number of activities that can encourage musical exploration.
Playing music frequently, such as in the car or during playtime, allows exposure to different kinds of music.
Making your own musical instruments makes the process of music seem less daunting and more accessible to the youngest children. There are a number of guides online for making household instruments, most of which use ordinary materials such as bottles, boxes, and rubber bands.
Another activity is singing songs and rhymes, no matter what your musical abilities may be. The key is making music fun and enjoyable for everyone involved.
You can also combine musical lessons with other lessons. For example, you can teach about animals by having children sing along like a lion, or dance like a snake. Children can also use older relatives and video sites to learn about what music used to sound like and what kinds of music people made. Asking the relatives can also provide some fun family stories to keep your personal family history alive.
You can also connect learning about music with emotional growth by talking with children about feelings in songs. For example, you can explore how different tones and rhythms show different feelings, or discuss what a singer is saying in a song.
There are also physical and dance games that encourage music appreciation.
Games such as musical chairs/cushions remain favorites, and have multiple variations.
For children of all ages, dancing is a fun way to physically experience rhythm, beats, and speed while burning off energy.
Some older children can also learn from music or dancing-themed video games.
Encouraging children to make sounds also helps, as it teaches them about cause and effect when hitting something a certain way makes a special sound.
For older children, you can go into more detail about music and discover more advanced topics within the subject. You can help them learn more about the history of a certain instrument or what others have done by using video and music sites to explore new areas.
If your children are already in a dedicated music practice, you can help by learning more about music reading and how music is written (don’t worry—there are great guides that provide a simple overview.)
You can also help your child grow by recording and playing back music that they make to hear how they have done. Actions such as these show your children that you value what they do and that their efforts matter.
If your child is interested in music, but has no particular musical instrument in mind, you can learn about how people play instruments and the sounds they make.
Always stress that the fun in music comes from learning, growing, and trying new things. Make sure your children know they do not have to be perfect to have fun.
Teaching children about the joys of music can be a wonderful and fun journey for parents and children alike. Musical activities can also be tied into other areas or learning, which exposes children to a diverse world of learning and knowledge. Learning music allows for connections between people, a greater sense of achievement, and personal growth. Encouraging these activities can apply to children of all ages.
By Jennifer Paterson for the Healthy Moms Magazine
Jennifer Patterson, A.R.C.T., Master’s of Music (voice, piano), has degrees from Boston University, The Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. She was a recipient of The Canada Council Award to study at the well-known Royal Opera House in London, and was the principal soprano for the Boston Lyric Opera Company. Her dedication to the legitimate training of the voice and piano has made her a definite asset to the musical community of Southern California.