How does music benefit your child? Does music make a difference in the school or medical environment? What are some simple ways that you can add music to every day life?
While the “Mozart Effect” has been debunked by the majority of current research, impressive mounting evidence positively indicates that music, and specifically musical training, has positive effects on almost all areas of child development:
- A Brown University Study in 2006 indicated that music lessons in young children using the Suzuki method increases literacy and memory, as well as enhancing mathematical skills. The Suzuki method, developed in Japan, teaches children as young as two or three how to play Western instruments using only their ears. By comparison, in the West children generally learn how to play instruments by reading music. Find out more from the International Suzuki Association.
- Music gives children freedom in self-expression and imagination and helps children socialize. Groups of children often use music as part of their dramatic play and interaction.
- Researchers from the University of Hong Kong discovered school age students learning classical music instruments showed a marked increase in verbal memory.
- Music and rhythm games accompanied by movement increase balance and agility. These same games improve a child’s concept of rhythm and the beat.
- Vocal and piano lessons in childhood have been linked to increased long term intellectual ability, possibly because of the memorization and concentration needed.
- Music increases a child’s ability to understand the nuances of language.
(See previous Music & Life article “The Secret Language Connection” for more information)
Now that you understand how music helps children develop in a variety of ways, here are a few practical ways to add music to your home or classroom:
1. Add music to every day activities
Sing a song when your child wakes up in the morning, at lunchtime, during toy clean-up, or before nap time. Regardless of age, your child will associate the song with the activity. He or she can learn the song just by repetition. For great songs for any occasion, check out Songs for Teaching or Sing Up. These music education websites have songs for all ages and cover subject areas like science, math, and social studies!
2. Encourage an interest in music
You don’t have to be Beethoven yourself to enjoy music with your child. Attend kid friendly concerts together, include age-appropriate instruments among their toys, or encourage a musician friend to give your young child short music lessons. Sign your older child up for regular music lessons, or enjoy live music locally by going to a community orchestra concert, the high school musical, or even an outdoor jazz jam.
3. Keyboard Tots and Kids Xylophone
Keyboard Tots has a fun interactive keyboard for your iPhone which teaches them basic piano and notes.
Kids Xylophone is a free app with a cool and colorful xylophone interface which kids love.
4. Make music together
5. Join a parent/child music class
6. Virtual Instruments
The internet has many exciting and fun virtual instruments for kids to play. FlashMusicGames.com includes great links to virtual drums, guitars, and pianos. Have a great time jamming with your kids!
7. Beat Wave and Soundrop
Colorful squares help you create music in the iPhone’s Beatwave app. Make sounds and music just by drawing in the fun app “Soundrop”. You and your child can enjoy making all types of zany sounds. You can even change up the sounds by tweaking gravity and bounce! No musical skills whatsoever required for this one.