Why Children Need Music in Their Lives
You brought music back into the house. — Captain Von Trapp, The Sound of Music
Children need music in their lives. If you’ve ever heard a toddler make up a song, ever seen a kid rush towards a drum or a musical instrument, or ever watched as your child sang and danced along to Sesame Street, you know that children are hardwired for music. Even children that are not given music lessons or taken to concerts find ways to sing, dance, and make music on their own.
There are a lot of great “Music & Me” classes for preschoolers and very young children. Often, these classes are free, and are an opportunity for children to experiment with rhythm and music at a very basic level. In these classes, enjoying music is the only goal; children use their bodies, their voices, and child-friendly instruments such as wood blocks to play with music and have fun. Similar music appreciation sessions are also incorporated into nearly every preschool and day care program.
When children get a little older, parents have a decision to make: are you going to give your child music lessons? This becomes an even more important question when you take into account that music education programs in public schools are shrinking. Even if your elementary school does offer music classes, they are, at best, two 30-minute sessions per week and are a slightly more enhanced version of preschool music games. If you want your child to learn how to read music and how to sing or play an instrument, you have to take responsibility for his/her music education yourself.
There are many advantages to studying an instrument in childhood. In addition to giving children a natural field in which to explore their love of music, formal music lessons also help children learn math skills, practice spatial reasoning, and test executive planning functions. Music lessons also teach focus and discipline, and have been proven to improve children’s cognitive skills.
The benefits of giving your child music lessons cannot be ignored — but where to begin? Many parents turn to the tried and true: piano lessons for beginners is often the best choice, and modern piano studios look very different from the ones you may have remembered as a child. This generation’s teachers are extremely well educated, teach lessons in the home or online via Skype, and provide personalized instruction in order to give your child the best music education possible. Nor do you need a full-sized upright or grand piano for piano lessons; many children learn piano on one of the many new electric pianos that perfectly recreates the action and feel of the real thing, but folds up into a closet or corner when not in use.
Bringing music into your house — whether through piano lessons, voice lessons, or the popular Suzuki violin lessons — gives your child an outlet for self-expression, provides your child the opportunity to explore what is already naturally wired into his or her brain, and helps your child learn important skills that will last a lifetime. Even if your child does not become a professional musician, practicing music every day instills a true appreciation for all kinds of music. This, in turn, passes down to the next generation.
If you see your young child making up songs, dancing to the radio, or singing along with Elmo, it’s time to start thinking about music lessons. Children need music in their lives, and are going to find ways to express themselves musically regardless of whether they ever sit in front of a piano. However, giving your child music lessons shows your child that you, too, approve of musical expression and that you’re all going to work together to make music an important part of your lives.
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