Every parent wants his or her child(ren) to reach their full potential, and strives to provide every developmental support available. Increasingly music is being recognized as an ideal vehicle for encouraging a broad range of early childhood milestones, yet early childhood arts education is regularly sidelined in our educational system.
Music is essential to all learning, not just learning music: consider how much easier it is to learn something if it is set to music (whether the Alphabet song or the list of American Presidents). Not only this, but listening is the most important sensory channel for learning. Now consider how little we encourage active listening or participatory learning. The young child is primarily an active being, wired to move and to vocalize, but we lack the tools in a society dominated by electronic media to direct such activity toward positive child development. This is where music can make a huge difference: every child is musical, unless their musicality is quenched by a lack of active music making.
Music also turns movement into an environment for psychological development and increased brain function, while also preparing a child to participate confidently in community; taking turns and connecting with others. Music education benefits a child at every stage of development. As babies and toddlers move to music, they learn body control – dancing when music plays, stopping when music stops; they learn how to express and be aware of emotion through recognizing sad and happy sounds. Body and impulse control are important skills for school readiness. Music class teaches a child to connect aural skills to body movement, developing coordination and space awareness which improves social skills.
Karen Haughey, a respected music educator, says “Our society is losing community culture due to constant visual stimulation. We have replaced telling stories around the campfire with reality shows and neglected singing together for watching “American Idol.” We have become passive observers of our culture - watching and listening but not participating.” No wonder community has withered in our generation.
Some parents are musical themselves, while others believe they have no musical talent, how can a parent harness the power of music to their young child’s benefit?
First, start as soon as possible - it is never too late to benefit from music participation, but the greatest advantages come from the earliest exposure. Even in the womb a child can hear music and experience movement, kickstarting their physical and psychological development. The earlier a child is in an environment of active music making, the more likely it is that the child’s inborn musicality will be awakened and developed.
Second, make this a family activity. Music offers parents and children the simple joys of being together and playing with each other, which encourages each child to trust their own natural instincts. A good early childhood music class will provide resources for use at home, in the car, and at all times of the day from waking to bedtime.
Third, build a common repertoire of shared music. Most parents today can still remember tunes learned in their childhood, but we seldom pass along those tunes to our children. Folk songs, traditional tunes, and music we can share, form a reservoir of music which we can draw from as our children grow. When my own sons were young we had many family favorite songs which they had heard from birth (or earlier) and these provided a core foundation for their musicality, which in turn aided their development. Now those babies are young men with high school diplomas, a university degree, strong social skills, passion for a wide range of causes, natural leadership traits, and a deeply rooted musicality that is expressed in a huge variety of ways.
The foundational role of music in healthy development is the reason I studied Musikgarten, in order to be able to bring this early childhood music curriculum to children from birth to 9 years. The sequential curriculum for each developmental stage builds upon and repeats patterns and melodies semester to semester, so children learn to listen, recognize and reproduce music, by singing, tapping or even writing down the melodies and rhythms. Every child has potential to be musically literate, and Musikgarten is the foremost way to release that potential.
Let music release your child’s full potential and stimulate healthy development.
Coastal School of Music
Ocean View School of Music