by guest Sasha Judelson
Certified Level II Music Together Teacher
Thinking about a music class for your child? If you’re like other parents, you may be wondering:
“Is my child too young to be in a music class?”
“What if my child doesn’t enjoy it?”
“I’m not musical at all, does that matter?”
These are all highly relevant and thoughtful questions to be asking!
The good news is that we’re born ready to make music.
One of the 8 intelligences that we’re born with is music and that’s the strand we want to tap into when we are supporting music development. We’re not accurate music-makers when we’re born but we’re ready and eager to have that natural aptitude supported.
From birth, we can build a foundation of basic music competence: being able to sing in tune, find the beat and move with rhythm. The window of opportunity to best support this is from infancy until 7 or 8 years old at which point your child might decide they would like to learn an instrument or sing in a choir.
When we tap into our musical intelligence, the journey can be fun and enjoyable!
One music class can be a great deal of fun, a single semester may open a window into your child’s music development, but over time that weekly routine of class and enjoying music at home can make the most amazing difference. And, it not only builds that musical foundation but while we’re at it we are also supporting social, emotional and cognitive development. We are making music together with other families and their babies and kids, connecting to each other as parent/guardian/grandparent/favourite aunt and child at a time of rapid development in the brain.
Making music is like having a fireworks show in your brain.
While we’re building that musical foundation, we’re supporting an incredible number of other developmental pieces including small and gross motor skills, co-operation, empathy and leadership (just to name a few). Great Lakes Music Together supports all this learning by providing families with the music and songbooks to take home. That means that you get to explore the music all week long. This not only deepens the development for babies and kids, it opens your child’s spiral of learning.
And don’t forget it’s fun! You’ve heard that a child’s work is play. Music development is also best supported through play. In fact, we have to play with music before we can make music. Our classes are a springboard for your child’s imagination and knowing the music, having heard it all week long, truly strengthens the opportunity to absorb the information offered in class.
Now, let’s get to those questions…
“Is my child too young?”
No, your child is never too young to start making music. It’s a natural aptitude and we want the foundation to be as deep as possible. We are, after all, supporting the building of neural pathways. And, we want to build whole, well-rounded human beings who feel fully able to participate in a fulfilling life.
“What if my child doesn’t enjoy it?”
Because we have musical intelligence, every child is naturally wired to make music. So, their enjoyment in the class comes in a way which feels right for them. Sometimes it’s hard for them though – like any activity can be – and when it’s hard we play what I call “the distracting game”. We concentrate on their behaviour and not on the fact that they cannot do it, or more precisely, are not showing us at that moment they can do it. Additionally, there needs to be some inaccuracy before any of us are musically accurate and research shows us that kids are absorbing an enormous amount in class, despite their best efforts to indicate to us that they are not taking in anything at all. The most important piece is that they don’t feel pressured. We are not all born with a performance gene. So we create an unpressured environment by allowing them to absorb, move, and show us what they can and can’t do in a way that feels right to them.
“Does it matter that I’m not musical?”
No, you don’t need to be musical! It’s that musical intelligence thing again – kids are naturally wired music-makers. In our everyday life, we tend not to do a lot of music making, so we need, very much, to expose our babies and kids to it. And, seeing an adult they know and love making music is what gives children the disposition to be music-makers. Then, musical accuracy comes from us as teachers and of course any recorded music they hear.
As we attempt to parent in an era of wonderment and rapid change it is more important than ever to remind ourselves that life skills are connected and supported through various means and activities. Music does just that. It is a way of expressing oneself, of connecting with others, of co-operating with others, of learning to use ones brain in a multi-modal function, of relaxing and of enjoying.
Sasha is the Director of Great Lakes Music Together which offers a one-of-a-kind music program for young families with children ages 0-8 in Guelph and Kitchener, ON.
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