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How to Make Music Part of Your Child's Education

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/27/2007 | Parenting

Is music part of your child's education? If it isn't, it should be. Music is a powerful tool that aids a child's development in various ways. Consider a crying baby soothed by a mother's lullaby or a toddler learning the alphabet and numbers through song. Put music in your child's life and you will be nurturing them in the following areas:

- Improve physical coordination
- Enhance their sense of timing
- Honing their listening skills
- Improving memory skills
- Aiding language and speech development
- Enhance reasoning skills such as used in math and science
- Providing an outlet for self expression

Before we go on further, let's get one thing straight first: Music education is not just about learning to play an instrument. It is not about music exams and attaining a certificate. I remember disliking my piano lessons and hating the music exams. Right after I finished my Grade 5 practical exam, I was determined to put an end to my misery. I quit! Why did I not enjoy the music lessons? I believe it was because I hadn't learned that music was to be enjoyed.

Like how a child learns to read and write, we must first expose them to certain activities that prepare them to develop those skills. For example, reading aloud to children daily helps them learn to read later on. These activities are known as pre-reading and pre-writing skills. So it is with music, we need to expose our children to early music experiences for it will help them develop skills needed in their future music learning. These skills will ease their learning and thereby make it a more enjoyable experience. These early experiences include singing in tune, in time and on pitch. It also includes feeling the rhythm and moving to the beat of the songs they sing and hear.

Most early childhood music programs found today combine both music and movement. Children are encouraged to not only sing but also to dance and move according to the music. They not only learn to listen but are also given opportunities to express and create. For example, hopping like a bunny to "jumpy" music. Children are also given props such as scarves, balls, beanbags, shakers and sometimes instruments to play with. This further enhances their motor capabilities and coordination. In a nutshell, music and movement programs help children experience and explore music as a whole. On top of that, it's a whole lot of fun, fun, fun.

What activities can you do with young children to develop "pre-music" skills?

- Sing to your children often. Start when they are babies.
- Play children music tapes or CDs. There are sing-along CDs and also music and movement CDs available.
- Recite nursery rhymes and chants. Combine that with movement such as finger play, bouncing on the knees, rocking, clapping and hand actions.
- Make up your own music or substitute familiar songs with your own words. It's ok to be silly.
- Expose children to different types of music such as classical, waltzes, tango, cha-cha, latin, pop etc....
- Join a music and movement program such as Kindermusik or Musikgarten.
- Make your own musical instruments with rubber bands, boxes, spoons, chopsticks, beans, blocks, plastic bottles etc....
- Attend concerts and other musical events.

Children have a natural acquisition for music. It means when they are young, we don't have to do a whole lot of teaching but rather encouraging. Music education can enhance your child's development and learning. Don't leave it out but rather make the decision today to integrate it into your child's life.