Many people think that early education in music is the first step in creating a talented musician, but there is so much more that comes when children engage in and through music. Whether they continue on to play an instrument, in addition to being enjoyable for young children, research shows that the benefits of music participation go even further, extending to brain development and social connections.
Here are just few ways your family can take advantage of the benefits of early childhood music education:
1. Start at birth
Because actively engaging with music utilizes multiple functions — like the voice, hands and memory — many different skill sets are developed along the way, supporting social, emotional and cognitive development. Also, children love to imitate what they see and hear. When your child copies what you’re doing, they are learning to pay attention, observe and then put those observations into action. Imitate them back to validate their creativity and support their growth of self-confidence.
2. Engage everyone
Regardless of your music ability, everyone can get involved. All children — and adults — are capable of participating in music activities. The participation and modeling of parents and caregivers — regardless of their musical talents — is essential to children reaching basic music competence and a lifelong love of music.
3. Incorporate the arts into everyday life
Bring music into every part of life — sing at the grocery store, before bed, etc. Encourage schools to include music as a core part of their curriculum, given the many benefits to children’s development.
4. Support family bonding
Children love music. Music is a way to bring the entire family together to relax, have fun and engage with one another. Singing and dancing together as a family is not just enjoyable, but it helps children develop many important skills like language development, confidence, self-esteem, concentration and social skills. It’s good for everyone all around.
5. Embrace those nonsense words
Believe it or not, singing songs without words supports your child’s language development. Many cultures utilize “vocables” — syllables without meaning — instead of words or poetry. Because music makes the sounds of letters and words more obvious and concrete through a slower pace and repetition, children can better hear the sounds that make up words, supporting their language development.
Overall, early childhood music education encourages creativity, self-expression and confidence for children of all ages. Through developmentally appropriate and participatory programs that involve important adults in a child’s life — teachers, caregivers and parents — music education can be a significant part of a child’s development and early learning.