Studies abound regarding the effects of music on children. From the Mozart Effect to the question of violent lyrics, scientists are working to find out what exactly happens when the brain is exposed to different types of music. Most of the studies are still inconclusive but one thing is certain – music is an integral part of life, and for children, the older they get the more important music becomes. Schools have cut music programs due to budget deficits, so teaching music appreciation to children is often left to the parents. Here are some ideas to help you teach your kids to appreciate music more.
- Start early – Studies show that even in infancy music has an impact on the human brain. They have also shown that classical music can lower the blood pressure and calm an upset infant. Singing simple songs to your children is the beginning of music appreciation.
- Teach your child to sing – Fun little rhyming songs are very easy for children to learn, even with a very limited vocabulary. They will pick up the words and tune quickly and find that singing is a great way to lift their own spirits.
- Music and dance – Expose your kids to different types of music through the avenue of dance. For example check out your local college or university to see if they have a dance series. This can be a wonderful way to show your children how culturally diverse music is, and they will enjoy seeing the different dance forms from a variety of cultures. Dancing to different styles of music is fun and an added bonus is the exercise it provides. You can teach the kids different rhythms as they move their feet to the beat of the music, and you can talk about the different types of music used in the dancing.
- Show good music videos – Some kids enjoy watching music videos. There are also music videos that are inspiring, uplifting and just plain entertaining, such as Disney’s Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. Animusic has been featured on PBS and is a company that specializes in unique 3D computer generated music videos. Kids are intrigued by the images they see moving to even the subtlest of musical nuances. Many teachers use these videos to teach about tempo, harmony, rhythm, anticipation and other related concepts.
- Introduce your child to an instrument – “If you make friends with an instrument you will have a friend for life.” Many great musicians will attest to this credo. Learning to play an instrument can lead to a life-long love of music. When possible, create opportunities for your child to see a soloist playing her particular instrument for inspiration. Keep in mind that the voice is an instrument also. Voice lessons can bring out a shy singer and work miracles for the tuneless. Always encourage your child even when you must suffer through the squeaks of the strings and squawks of the woodwinds or the wrong notes on the piano. Practice makes pretty good, if not perfect!
- Sing in the car – A long trip can be made shorter and more fun by singing. Old standards can be enjoyable and teaching your kids some of the songs you grew up with can also be fun. Try harmonizing and singing to different rhythms. There is a plethora of sing-a-long CD’s and downloads available, so create a travel mix, and not only will your children appreciate the music more, they will also appreciate the fond memories of the family singing together on the trip to Grandma’s house.
- Make a date – Many orchestras have children’s programs throughout the year. Take advantage of these opportunities and make a pleasurable date with your child. Dress up, attend the event, then go to lunch or dinner and have a discussion about the music. Find out what your child liked or didn’t like or what had the most impact. High school musicals, local church or community choir events and chamber concerts offer inexpensive alternatives to the more formal orchestra setting. The main thing is to choose an event that you feel your child will enjoy.