Giving the Gift of Music
How do you give your child the gift of music?
Music lovers everywhere surely celebrated when news came out that music was great for children’s academic development. The discovery of what is known as the Mozart Effect sent parents scrambling for music lessons as they discovered the influence of music and the possibility that music could improve their children’s intelligence. In 1998 the governor of Georgia even began a program distributing classical music to each infant born in the state.
We’ve come a long way since the 1990s in understanding how music can benefit all individuals, not just children. For example, music is being used as therapy to help victims of strokes recover. Researchers in Finland found that not only did stroke victim’s verbal memory increase with music, but their mood also improved.
Music has also been credited with lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. The national sleep foundation recommends music as a side-effect-free alternative to sleep aids and music was even used therapeutically to help shooting victim and member of the US House of Representatives Gabrielle Giffords.
Music and Children’s Learning
“There are many ways that developmentally appropriate music impacts a young child’s learning, no matter what area of development is considered—cognitive, language, social, physical or spiritual. Each of these domains can be positively influenced by the presence of music in a young child’s life.” says Ellen Allard, a multi-award-winning children’s composer who has been watching children interact with her music since 1976.
But between paying for an instrument to practice on and paying for the lessons themselves, lessons may not be an option for all parents. Additionally, with our lives busier than ever, it is not always possible to fit music lessons into a child’s daily routine. How can parents incorporate more music into their children’s lives? Here are a few ideas:
- Wake up to music instead of an alarm. This can be accomplished with a clock radio or apps.
- Take music breaks during homework time. After a set amount of time working, let kids take a break to listen to a song or two before getting back to work.
- Incorporate music into your daily routine, such as singing the Brush Your Teeth song as your children brush their teeth.
- Add songs to liven up boring parts of your day. Sing songs while doing chores, waiting in line, or stuck in traffic.
- Take advantage of free music concerts available to the public, which can often be found at public parks.
- Are the kids banging on pots and pans? Join in and extend their learning with different rhythms and songs.
- Play music in the background at home or in the car. You can use travel time to teach children about the music you love.
- Create new lyrics to favorite tunes. Encourage children to make up their own songs.
- Have a dance party at home!
- Teach children to use music to help regulate their own emotions. For example, maybe there is a certain song they would like to listen to when they feel sad, one that helps them to feel better.
- Make instruments together. Whether it’s a coffee can drum or a rubber band and cardboard box, there are plenty of items around the house that can have musical uses.
- Make your own music video. Record your child singing their favorite song. Grandma and Grandpa would love to see the results!
- Look for music online. The Internet offers many opportunities to learn more about music. Tutorials for playing instruments lack the personal attention of private lessons, but may be more accessible to children who lack the time or money for traditional music instruction.
Of course, if you have the opportunity for your child to participate in music lessons, all the better. But if you can’t make the time or financial commitment there are still plenty of ways to nurture your child’s love of music!
Image courtesy of iStock.