Rhythm is the fundamental backbone of music. Even uncivilized cultures of the world have used drums to communicate with each other. Children are naturally drawn to rhythm. By playing clapping games or marching around a room a child is not only having fun but is working to develop their brain.
Listening to music, particularly classical music, has been shown to develop the areas of the brain related to mathematics. As a piano teacher, for over 25 years, I have noticed the co-relation between music and mathematics many times.
How early can we expose our children to music? Can babies hear in the womb? I am convinced that they can. While pregnant with twins, I went to see the movie Titanic. The movie was quite loud in places. The babies moved about frantically during the breakup of the ship. It was very loud during this section. To this day my twins enjoy Irish music, have studied highland dance and like the theme music to the Titanic (My Heart Will Go On). Is it all a coincidence?Children can learn many things through music, particularly while singing: nursery rhymes, counting, alphabet, simple rhythm patterns, and harmony. Finding a program for children to learn music can be confusing. Parents need to decide if they want “fun” exposure with some learning involved or more formal instrument training.
For the very young, a group setting is fun and rewarding. For children age 4 or above, more formal instrumental training can begin. For the younger child with no reading skills the parent will need to be involved with the lesson and home practice. Music is a new language and parents need to understand that it will be tricky at times for their children to learn. It does require home practice on a regular basis, but it is worth the time and effort.
Children need the encouragement of their parents when taking formal music instruction. Children will need an instrument in good working order, including being in tune. They will also need a regular scheduled practice time for their best progression.
Choosing a teacher can be a challenge. It is wise to research carefully the teacher’s credentials and teaching history. Ask questions like: a) what are your qualifications? b) How long have you been teaching? c) Why do you teach? Choosing a teacher because they are on your street or have a seemingly cheap rate can lead to a waste of time and money and loss of interest for your child.
As a parent of four, I want my children to love music. As a professional musician with a major in piano, it has been important for me to allow my children to explore different instruments and not push my own on them. As a result our home is filled with singing, dulcimer, drums, xylophone, recorder, flute, organ, violin, guitar, clarinet and piano. May the joyous sound of music fill your home, too!
About the author: Marilyn Muizelaar A.R.C.T.,R.M.T. is the Director of Joyous Sounds School of Music. www.joyoussounds.ca