Images of pregnant mothers listening to music on their headphones while gently caressing their bellies with a blissful gaze in their eyes abound the Internet and somehow it’s been imprinted in our common parenting consciousness that there is a link between listening to Mozart as a baby’s intelligence or academic success. But is putting on a pair of headphones the recipe to future success?
Not quite so. It’s been suggested that early music education bears a significant influence on how young brains develop and is beneficial in key areas such as academics, social life, spatial awareness, reasoning and personal fulfillment. But some more recent studies claim that the key ingredient in getting the full benefits of early childhood music education programs is the “making” part. Just like with language, modeling music behavior and engaging with your child in supportive musical dialog bears a crucial importance in the musical development of young children.
As hardcore believers in the “making” aspect of musical education, we at Music Together base the curriculum of our classes for children ages 0-6 on modeling music-making behavior. In fact, teachers in our Music Together classes encourage the adults in our classes to “Follow me and let them be.” Which translates into practice what studies have suggested: modeling a certain behavior is the best learning tool for young children who have an innate desire to imitate the adults around them. Empowering them by giving them the choice of imitating us, we provide a carefree learning environment where young brains feel free to develop.
Here are a few tips you can use at home with your young child for successful music making modeling:
- Sing to them. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself “non-musical.” The beauty is that your child is completely non-judgmental of your ability to hit the right notes, but rather enjoys the tone of your voice and your desire to engage with her.
- Resist the urge to move their hands or other parts of the body when you sing or dance with them. For example, model hand clapping and offer your child the choice to start clapping by himself instead of taking their hands and moving them in a clapping motion.
- Be silly. Children learn what something is by something that is not. By being silly with alternating high and low sounds, fast and slow rhythm, your child will learn music concepts by comparing and contrasting and might soon take the lead.
- Have fun! If your child watches you having fun while making music, she/he is more likely to pick up that behavior by associating it with a positive experience.
We do all these and many more in our Music Together classes. MusicalMe, Inc. offers Music Together classes in ten locations in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. Music Together classes are being offered at the Santa Cruz MOD for the Fall semester Mondays and Saturdays with Teacher Mary. Full schedule of classes is going to be available on MusicalMe’s website (http://www.musicalme.com) starting August 15th, when registration for the Fall semester begins.
Lizz Hodgin started offering Music Together classes in Santa Cruz in September 1996 after watching the mind-boggling effect of the program’s music upon her then toddler son, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth. To celebrate 20 years of dedication to the community, MusicalMe, Inc. is hosting a special concert featuring familiar Music Together singer Uncle Gerry on September 3rd at the Scotts Valley Senior Center. Tickets and details can be found on MusicalMe’s website (http://www.musicalme.com).
— Alexandra Proca, Social Media and PR Consultant for MusicalMe, Inc.