The benefits of music education on children are endless. According to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM Foundation), children who study music have larger vocabularies and higher reading skills than those who do not. Learning a musical language also develops cognitive functioning similar to those who speak multiple languages. The list of possibilities is ever growing when we teach children music!
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However, while studies show improved cognitive and behavioral functioning in children who participate in music programs, what most parents really want is for their kids to actually enjoy their music lessons. All too often, children start taking lessons but begin to lose interest as the routine and constant practice sets in. So, how do you teach children music, to love it and not just go through the motions? Fostering a true interest and love of music starts at an early age. Here are a few ideas to encourage your young kids to love music:
Listen, Sing and Dance
The first, and arguably easiest way, to begin to develop an interest in music in your kids is to listen to a variety of styles any chance you get. While music geared specifically towards children (think Raffi, Disney, etc) is fine, it’s not your only option. Kids are born with a blank musical slate, so to speak, so start by playing the style or band you like most, and then introduce new music. Luckily, finding new music is easy with all the digital options available. Try playing different Pandora or Spotify stations to discover what your children might like. Furthermore, when listening to music, sing along or dance along with your favorites. When children see how much fun you’re having with music, they will associate it with positive feelings.
Incorporating Music into Daily Life and Family Memories
Developing positive feelings toward music at a young age also starts by creating good memories that involve it. Incorporating music into daily life can serve a dual purpose by making mundane chores fun while enjoying music. Playing your favorite songs while doing the dishes or cleaning is a great way to help kids see how music can make everything better. Music can enhance special occasions as well. Make music a tradition at holiday gatherings. For example, maybe there is a particular holiday album you always play on Christmas morning while your kids open gifts. Finally, explore music from your ethnic and cultural background, and learn the words and meaning behind popular patriotic songs. This will help your young children understand the value and importance of music on their personal culture.
See a Variety of Live Shows
Listening to music at home is a great strategy to teach children to love music, but nothing can instill a true appreciation of music like seeing it live. Several communities feature live shows geared toward children and families. Check with your local choral groups or symphonies to see if there are any family-friendly performances. Local musical theater is also a great option. Even high schools or local colleges put on shows throughout the year that not only allow kids to get exposure to new musical styles, but allow the family to create memories together.
Create Music Together
Part of teaching kids to love music is also teaching them how to have fun with it. While it’s great to expose them to various styles and perhaps even take instrument lessons, start with teaching them that music doesn’t always have to be perfect and anyone can create it. For little ones, making music from pots and pans or other objects around the house helps them develop musical play. For older kids, perhaps joining a choir for the first time at school would be a great way to see how social music can be. And older kids may want to start taking music lessons. No matter what, there is a way to get kids of all ages to create music and enjoy it.