How can I help my child benefit from music?
There is much research on the benefits of music for a child’s development. Classical music has a positive influence, especially with regard to young children. You may have heard statements such as: “Classical music can help your child to be smarter.” “Listening to Mozart can soothe a fussy baby.” “Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning.” “Music facilitates the growth of neural pathways, connecting both sides of the brain.” These are just some of the reasons why parents often want to introduce their youngsters to classical music at a very early age—and even before birth, since infants in the womb can benefit from listening to Beethoven, Bach and Brahms. Parents, take note! These claims are true. Musical experiences are very important to the development of the whole child. Through music, not only do children benefit cognitively, but also socially and emotionally; they can express themselves and interact musically with others, participating in the joy of classical music in many different ways. Youngsters who play instruments or sing discover the rewards that come after the hard work that results in a successful performance. Those who are in an ensemble can develop discipline, hand-eye coordination, a respect for others, and cooperation, working as a team. Children can develop skills to think creatively and improvise, imagining solutions to problems that are “out of the box.” As they reap the benefits from musical study, classical music is a “value-add” to the music the children already know and like.
Music is part of being human, and helps us gain insight into different cultures. Classical music is part of history and enjoyed by many cultures around the world. Music addresses multiple ways of knowing and learning; it is aural, visual, and kinesthetic. Read more about the benefits of a music education here.
Read more about the benefits of a music education and a sample of the research supporting its importance in children’s lives.
How can my child gain experience with classical music?
Here are some suggestions for how you can supplement your child’s development through experiences that include classical music:
- Interact with your child to make music together, frequently singing to them and with them. Try singing a conversation! Experiment with music and musical sounds in the home. Allow the child to engage in musical play, and join in the fun. Talk about music.
- Experiment with your child to see what you can create that makes music or sound. Several books that can be found in the library show how to make musical instruments from found materials. Then make up a song to play together.
- Arrange a family listening time, with each person choosing his favorite music. Relax and enjoy what each family member selects.
- Create a family time where you play or sing music for each other or combine your assorted skills in playing, singing, or dancing together. The type of music can vary, depending on family interests, the season, the current mood, and other factors.
- Plan a special outing to a ballet, concert, folk music festival, cultural festival, or a local production of a musical. If possible, attend many different kinds of concerts regularly; many concerts are free, such as summer concerts in the park.
- Read a music story to or with your child. This might be a story about composers or a classic music story (such as Peter and the Wolf, The Nutcracker, The Magic Flute, Cinderella, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.)
- Enjoy a video together. Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Tubby the Tuba, or Fantastia are good examples.
- Everyone is naturally musical. Revive your own music skills. You may even decide to take lessons yourself!
- Listen to classical music on the car radio as you travel to and from after-school activities.
- Tune into Classics for Kids® on your local public radio station or online at www.classicsforkids.com
- Attend a performance of a local youth orchestra (or any other ensemble). Your child will enjoy hearing peers perform and the music played is generally accessible to youngsters. Find out if your child’s school takes students to a professional orchestra concert as a field trip and if so, consider lending your support.
If your child has been studying an instrument for awhile, consider enrolling in a youth orchestra. Many have varying levels that are appropriate for beginners as well as for more advanced students.
- If your child likes to listen to music while doing homework, tune in to the local classical station.
- Visit a music store or a piano store; look at and perhaps try out instruments.
- Visit a local music school if there is one; talk to teachers, and perhaps sit in on a lesson
- Play an educational music video game with your child. NOTE: The Classics for Kids® website has a list of such games.