Words by Jessica Peresta
Music education is important for so many different reasons. Children who take music lessons, or who participate in any form of music education, have better memory patterns than those children who receive no music education. Music is a universal language, and children from any part of the world can hear the same music and be moved by it in the same way. Music education helps children with their language and reasoning skills, gives them a sense of accomplishment, and helps improve math and spatial skills.
As parents, you may not realize it, but you are probably already teaching your child music every day. When people hear about music education, immediately what they think about is formal lessons or being in a choir or orchestra. But children even only a few months old can learn music, and probably already are. Of course, formal music instruction and a quality music education are so important, but music education is already happening in your day to day life. The bugs you hear making noises while on a walk, the construction workers hammering away, the birds chirping in the sky, the sink that is dripping water, and the cars honking their horns are all making music and as your child hears these noises, they are developing their ear that will hear musical performances one day.
Every day you are probably listening to music in the car, having dance parties with your kids, and watching various types of music videos on YouTube or TV. Children are developing a love for music from an early age just by participating in these musical activities with their parents. Not to mention, it is a great bonding experience between the child and parent. As parents, it is hard for us sometimes to step out of our comfort zones and to just “be a kid again." But if our kids see us enjoying our music and watch us nodding our heads or tapping our feet to our favorite songs, they will be encouraged to feel the music they like listening to also.
Your child, even as an infant, enjoys listening to you sing simple lullabies. As your child grows into a toddler and a preschooler, they enjoy singing simple songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” with you. Kids love moving and doing motions, so don’t shy away from having fun interacting with your child in this way. Turn everyday tasks into a song and make up silly songs together. It makes life fun and children will become mini composers. My kids love to sing while we are folding laundry, about the food we’re eating, or about the bubbles in the bathtub. You do not need to be the best singer to create fun music with your kids either. As your child becomes school-aged, they will find their own musical style, and you may find them singing their favorite songs while they have their headphones in or as they are walking around.
Kids love to move. Like I said earlier, you may already have dance parties at home, but if not, now is the perfect time to start. You will love seeing how creative your kids can be and the amazing dance moves they come up with. You can make it fun by playing a song, and when you pause the music, they have to freeze. Another idea for incorporating movement with music is by using scarves and seeing how creative kids can move their bodies to music of various tempos. Also, call out different ways for your child to move like “be a bird” or “tip toe softly” and they will discover different ways to use their bodies.
When your child is young, getting them used to hearing different sounds around them and using household objects as “instruments” will help them transition to playing a musical instrument when they are a little bit older. Examples of items to use are wrapping paper that they can crinkle, plastic bowls and spoons they can use as drums, rice put in an empty water bottle that can be played as a maraca, and rubber bands on a tissue box to be used as a guitar.
So parents, let loose and shake your groove thing with your kids. Sing loudly, turn up those silly songs, play your spoons on your plastic bowls, make up a marching band and walk around the house, and dance, dance, dance.
If your child is showing interest in taking music lessons, I recommend beginning at the age of 5 or 6. I usually recommend starting with piano lessons before moving onto guitar, drums, or whatever instrument they choose. The reason why I suggest waiting until 5 or 6 is that the child will be reading music notation and will need to be able to think about several things at the same time: playing the keys, counting rhythms, reading notation, curving hands, proper sitting, etc.
As a music teacher, I love sharing my passion and love of music with others. If you are needing music in your homeschool or if your child wants to take a beginning piano course online, you can find free resources and music lessons, as well as an affordable music education subscription site at www.thedomesticmusician.com.
Jessica Peresta is a music teacher with years of experience in playing piano, as a piano accompanist and teacher, and as a music teacher in the public school system. She is a mom of 3 little dudes, and wife to one tall dude. She’s a Netflix binging, sushi eating, worship band playing, nature loving, football watching kind of gal who LOVES teaching and inspiring others with all things music.
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