Arts and Education: Ways to Expose Children to Music
Music helps kids achieve more. Research delving into music education's impact on academic performance or test scores has been going on for years. But it's widely accepted that learning this universal language has benefits well beyond a child being able to plunk out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" on the piano.
The good news for parents is that we now have many options and resources at our disposal to expose children to music in ways that our own parents didn't. Specialized classes, technology, and other avenues make it easy to allow children to experiment with music.
We're going to talk about a few of those ways today - from traditional methods to interactive ones.
Ways to Teach Children About Music
Preschool Music Classes
Classes like those offered by Gymboree, Music Together, Kindermusik, and other businesses have an emphasis on music exploration and discovery. The great thing about these classes is that they don't require the discipline and structure of a lesson-based music class format.
Traditional Music Lessons
The oldie-but-goodie is still around, but with kid-friendly changes. Rote memorization of letters and scales has waned. Today, music lesson books for preschoolers and early elementary-aged kids are bright, colorful, and full of engaging characters and games. Traditional lessons do still require a child to be able to sit at task, without heavy distractions, for 30 minutes.
Sure, Rock Band and Guitar Hero are popular because they're really great video games. But for the 7-13 year-old set, these games can be a fun and powerful way to introduce music in a non-threatening way. I used to work for a music school, and at least 30 to 40% of the new students we booked per month began lessons because of Rock Band or Guitar Hero.
PBS will be launching a web-original series on PBSKids.com in April with music appreciation as its major theme. Entitled "Chuck Vanderchuck's Something-Something Explosion," this hilarious series with a silly main character will teach 6-10 year-olds the history and hallmark sounds of numerous musical styles and genres.
Apple's Garage Band software is a fantastic way to allow kids to take the driver's seat in creating their own music. Last week, I watched my daughter's kindergarten class quickly assimilate how to use the drag-and-drop interface to develop their own composition, insert pauses and breaks, and add musical elements.
Tips to Help Kids Enjoy Music
Keep it Simple
There's no real need to invest in an expensive piano or other instrument right away. Little ones can learn about beats, musical patterns, and notes with simple household items. You can do easy things like making a musical shaker with a coffee can and beans or filling glasses with different levels of water and hitting them with a spoon to teach your child about sound.
Lead by Example
The easiest and cheapest way to get your kids interested and engaged with music is by making it a part of your everyday life. Play different types of music at meals. Encourage your kids talk about what they hear. Let them dance, sing, and put on shows. Enjoy music yourself, and your excitement will be contagious!
What ways have you exposed your child(ren) to music? How do you incorporate music into your daily lives?
Gigi Ross is a mom of 2 from Austin, Texas who keeps her personal blog at KludgyMom, where she shares her sometimes snappish, sometimes neurotic take on parenting and blogging. Gigi is a freelance writer and social media consultant. She is the business columnist for ShePosts and the Managing Editor of Business 2 Blogger. Gigi also reviews children's products for Smart Mom Picks and mom's style products for Smart Mom Style. Her writing has been syndicated by Mamapedia, Babble, and BlogHer. Connect with Gigi on Twitter at @akludgymom.
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