Parents often hear the phrase, “Education begins at home.” While for many people this conjures up images of educational games, maps, puzzles, and books, there is another aspect of education that is often overlooked. Studies have shown that including music in a child’s education has rich benefits such as improved socialization, better memory skills, and higher cognitive abilities in math and science. Creating a home environment that is rich in music enhances the child’s music appreciation and supports learning that is happening at school. How can parents create a home that encourages a love of music? To start, follow these tips.
1. Turn on the radio—or a music streaming app
Playing music in the house can be a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to classic (and classical) music. In addition to the radio, music streaming apps like Pandora, iTunes, and Spotify make it possible to play music anytime, anywhere. Select different styles and genres of music to give your child a taste of the wide variety of music available. It doesn’t have to be a formal listening session—simply turn on music while doing chores, eating dinner, or at bedtime for some background sound.
2. Have instruments available.
3. Engage with music.
Using music as background noise is one way to ease your child into a love of music, but engaging with music is equally as important. Sing, dance, and play along to the music with your child to help them find and move to the beat. Perfect pitch or rhythm isn’t important; teaching your child that music is fun is the real goal.
4. Attend musical performances.
Most larger urban areas have performing arts centers where you can attend child-friendly concerts of orchestras and bands. In smaller cities, check with your local library or community center for such performances. Hearing (and watching) musicians perform can inspire children to learn to play an instrument and introduce them to the global language of music. Ballets, school performances, and other music-based programs can be fun ways to bring music into your child’s life, too.
5. Play music games.
Playing “Name that Tune,” freeze dance, or another music-based game on family game night can be a wonderful bonding time with your children. In addition, it can improve coordination, boost memory skills, encourage imagination, and generate opportunities for a child to develop his or her musical ability.
6. Make music together.
7. Return to the classics.
Music has evolved over the years, and most children aren’t aware of the history of music. Talk about iconic music legends from the past and how popular music has changed—reminisce about the difficulty of dragging your boombox everywhere, or the challenge of making mix tapes off the radio. Dust off the old tape player and play songs that have special meaning for you. Not only will it give your kids the chance to hear music from yesteryear, it also gives you the chance to inspire them with stories of how music has played a role in your life.
8. Consider music lessons.
As schools slash music classes from their budgets, private music lessons are becoming more important. If there’s one nearby, take the children to a musical “petting zoo”—some school districts, orchestras, libraries, and museums offer these special events where children can see, touch, and try out different instruments. If your child gravitates toward one instrument in particular, consider enrolling him or her in lessons. Not sure which instrument is the right one? Piano lessons are a wonderful introduction to music and can provide a basic music knowledge that will translate easily to other instruments.
Not every child who takes music lessons will become a dedicated musician, but a love of music can enhance every child’s life for years to come. Introducing children to music at a young age can bring benefits not only academically, but socially and developmentally. Regardless of the age of the child, it’s never too late to start their musical education, and bring the sweet sounds of rhythm and rhyme into every aspect of life.