Never too young for music
Music is everywhere. From before we are born we are exposed to music – high and low pitches, loud and soft sounds, steady beats and changing rhythms. We know that a child can recognise and respond to sounds from inside the womb, and that it is often the most familiar sound of all, a parent’s voice, that acts to soothe or calm a distressed baby. Exposure to music and participation in the making of music during early childhood can have a significant effect on the development of your child.
Where to Start?
It is never too early to start, but that doesn’t mean that you need to sign your 3 month old up for lessons! Music is everywhere – it is simply a matter of being aware of opportunities to create and respond to it in everyday situations. And the good news is that you don’t have to be ‘musical’ to do this! Dr Peter deVries is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, and is the Music Council of Australia’s early childhood music education expert. He has some tips about engaging your child in music:
- Sing, sing, sing! From birth onwards (or even before) sing to your child. Look your child in the eye and move with them as you sing.
- Get into musical “play” with your child. Respond to what your child initiates musically. This could be musical babbling from a newborn, part of a song for a toddler, or a whole song from an older child. Praise your child’s music-making, smile and join in. If a young child picks up a wooden spoon and starts striking it on the table, don’t tell them to stop – encourage them! Join in! Sing with them as they bang! This is music.
- Encourage your child to move to music – either as you sing, or to recorded music (warning: don’t have “background” music on all the time – young children will end up blocking this out). Again, join in and encourage them to make up their own movement sequences.
- Expose children to musical instruments. Even infants can grab a rattle or bells and make sounds from them. Listen to what older children do when they play instruments – that way they interweave their instrument play with singing, speaking and dramatic play.
As you child grows, so will their relationship with music. Visit the Huggie’s toddler development section to find out more about the developmental benefits of music for kids.