February 20, 2019
Sing, Dance & Play — The Importance of Music in Early Childhood
Music is important during early childhood and beyond.
You may have heard about the research on music: playing an instrument is really good for the human brain. The many benefits of playing music include improving concentration, memory and learning. Just listening to music alone has great benefits too! It helps us reduce stress and improve our moods and it can even improve our sleep quality.
So, as you’ve probably guessed, music has even more amazing effects on a child’s brain. From birth to five, a child’s brain is developing more and faster than it will at any other stage of life. Whether you like pop music, jazz or R&B, enjoying music with your little learner is a fun way to set them up for success. See how your child is learning about music and check out these simple activities for encouraging learning at home:
Babies are learning how to sing.
They may not know all the words yet, but your baby loves to sing along! Listen as they experiment with their voice. Your baby is discovering all the sounds they’re able to produce — from coos to shrieks. Your baby is also learning how their body can respond to music. Watch their excitement when you turn on a familiar song and sing along with them.
Play and learn together: Throw a mini family dance party! They are ready to move and groove, and you’re their favorite partner. Let your baby explore and participate in a wide variety of musical genres and styles. She might just be a little opera diva in the making!
One-year-olds are the littlest drummers.
The phrase “dance like no one is watching” perfectly suits toddlers. From swing music to rap to pop, they’ll enjoy a taste of it all.
Play and learn together: Your toddler can bang things together and enjoys knowing they can make sounds all by themselves. Give your little learner a couple paper plates or sticks to bang empty containers. Show them how to crash the plates together or tap their makeshift set of drums to the rhythms of rock and roll. They’ll probably pound out the beat as best they can.
Two-year-olds can keep up with the beat.
Do you remember your favorite song from childhood? Does a certain melody spark a beloved memory? Your toddler is starting to enjoy the magic of music. And they’re beginning to create their own sound memories. When you turn on the music, they respond with their entire body. Then, they may hum and sing along — with lyrics, background music or a drum beat. Your little learner will share their favorite songs with you again and again (and again and again).
Play and learn together: Music sets the tone for a lot of activities. It can be soft and slow at bedtime. Or you can make it fast and energetic for a family dance party. Pick a song, move or dance together, and use basic music words to talk about it. Some ideas: fast and slow, loud and soft, happy and sad, or silly and serious. Your toddler also loves it when you watch them dance! Wiggle together to the sound of music. As their coordination increases, they’ll add twists, turns and leaps. Turn on the tunes and express yourselves!
Three-year-olds are old enough to take music classes — even if they’re just from you.
Your child is paying more attention to music than ever before. They may sing along with the music you play, or sing songs to you that they’ve heard in school. And not just the words — you may hear them mimicking the rhythms and styles of the singers as well. At age three, your child is also ready to begin their first formal music classes, according to Dr. Robert A. Cutietta, author of Raising Musical Kids. While they may not be ready to learn how to play an instrument, your little learner can now develop skills, like identifying a beat or melody, and recognizing different instruments. Read more…
Play and learn together: To learn how to identify a rhythm, take time to turn on the radio or stream your favorite tunes. Then, clap to the music until you find a pattern. Is it one-two-three or one-two one-two? To find the melody, sing and hum away. Once you have had fun with your favorites, give something new a try. Try music of all different types and styles. Don’t worry if you don’t have the best voice, your sweet little one does not care!
Pre-K learners can come up with their own songs.
By now, your child has heard music in lots of places — whether it’s tunes on the radio or silly songs from the people in their life. At four and five, children can sing some on their own! They can also make up new rhythms with “instruments,” whether it’s a real drum set or just your pots and pans. Their creativity is coming out through their voice, and through all the wonderful other noises they can now create.
Play and learn together: Exploring music is a great way to build creative skills. Play different types of music: classical, jazz, hip hop, and rock and roll. Everyone can dance along! Then, explore the music further with questions. Ask, “How did that make you feel? Happy? Sad? Excited?” Or explore music as a movement motivator: “Does it make you want to sway? Run? Jump?” Keep noisy items or small instruments around the house, so that when you turn up the music, everyone can play along. Finding the beat of the song, or coming up with new rhythm ideas can be your child’s first adventures in making their own music.