When it comes to educating children, a lot of focus is placed on practical skills like reading and math, which are undoubtedly important. But we should raise our children to be well-rounded individuals, and this involves teaching them forms of creative self-expression. While different kids have different talents-some are good at drawing, some can dance well, and some are most talented in non-artistic areas-music should be integral to every child's life. And even if your child does not develop into a musical prodigy, it is a good idea to have cultivate familiarity with the art form.
In addition to enriching a child's life, familiarity with music and learning to play an instrument help develop crucial areas of a child's brain. In fact, studies have shown that musical proficiency helps children in math, language, learning, and creativity. In general, a child who can play a musical instrument
has an intellectual edge on one who cannot.
You may have heard that playing music for babies, even as early as when they are in the womb, can help boost intelligence. In fact, the studies behind this are mixed and nothing conclusive is known, but there is no denying that having plenty of music in the household prepares a child to learn music when she is old enough.
During the early months of your child's life, play music whenever your baby is wide awake. And in fact, she may even sleep well if you play some soft music in the background during sleep times. Play every kind of music that you have in the house. All will help your child develop familiarity with the diverse melodies, harmonies, and tones that go into music.
Meanwhile, even if you are not particularly musical yourself, it is a good idea to hum and sing to your child often. She will enjoy it, and it will make your household a little more fun and musical.
A good way to prepare your child for a musical life is to have musical toys in the house. But you do not have to bring into the household any of those noisy, flashy musical toys that you see at the toy store. Even to the most tolerant parent, some of these noisy toys can be quite annoying. In any case, a child who is interested in music will enjoy even the most tasteful musical toy. Small glockenspiels and keyboards, for example, are great for a start.
While musical toys are fun for children who are still young enough to be called babies, there is nothing wrong with introducing real instruments as early as it seems feasible. Many of the great musicians started playing real instruments at the age of three or four and practiced regularly even at so young an age. Of course, you do not need to make your child play or practice if he or she does not like to, but do keep in mind the importance of practice. If your child seems musically inclined, you may have to give a little extra encouragement to make sure he or she gets truly develops.
And as soon as your child is old enough to play a real instrument, you might want to invest in some lessons. Be careful with this, however, because if your child does not truly enjoy playing, lessons can quickly become a chore. Also, it is important to have a good teacher who makes practice fun.
If you do all this and your child does not seem to develop into a talented musician, do not let this bother you. Remember that a large portion of musical talent is inborn, and some kids simply are not born with it. You can still have a musical household-and who knows? If you continue to make music a central part of your family's life, your child may develop into a late-blooming musical talent.
By Jamell Andrews
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