We are exposed to music throughout our lives, from birth all the way through our adult years.
Whether or not one pursues music as a hobby or a profession, this art form plays a role in every person’s life. This is not a new concept, but why is it so important? And as we tend to see less focus on music and the arts in school, why is it important for parents to expose their children to music at all ages?
“Music is a universal language!” says Hillary Blake, director of education for Meridian Music School in Carmel. Let’s explore the language of music and how it impacts our children, as well as what parents can do to support music exposure and education in their child’s life.
Music is Integral to a Child’s Development
Music begins to play a role in a child’s life before they are even born. And of course, once they are in the world, music surrounds them. “Babies are already making musical sounds when they begin cooing and babbling,” Blake says. “They are naturally bouncing or moving to music they hear.”
This means that music is actually one of the first ways we can see our children develop. As a child grows, music continues to have an impact. “When we allow children to further explore this innate musicality, we allow them to freely and naturally express themselves,” Blake says. Self-expression is an integral part of children’s development, and music is one way we can encourage them to do so.
Children of All Ages Can Benefit from Exposure to Music
We often associate the benefits of music with babies and young children, but all ages can benefit from this exposure. “Children are already exposed to music regularly,” Blake says. “They hear it on the radio, on TV, in movies and in commercials. They even hear it in video games.”
While this everyday connection to music is wonderful, Blake believes that we can encourage more. “I believe it is also important to expose children to other types of music, including jazz and classical music,” she says. “Music is part of our history, and we can often learn from what composers were trying to say through their music.”
Parents Can Use Music to Support Their Child’s Development
Parents naturally begin to use music to support their child’s development from birth. “Parents can begin supporting a child’s musical development at birth by rocking their babies and singing to them,” Blake says.
Beyond that, as children grow, exposing them to a variety of music is a great way to open their eyes and ears, as well as introduce them to a new form of expression. Parents can also consider encouraging music lessons, as there are many benefits, some of which are unexpected.
“I have seen first-hand the many ways students benefit from music instruction,” Blake says. “They learn focus by having to think of many concepts — such as note reading, rhythm, dynamics and tempo — all at once. Students learn discipline because they must practice regularly in order to improve. They gain self-confidence by performing on stage in front of others. More importantly, students can gain a healthy outlet for expressing their emotions.”
While parents often encourage musical interaction at a young age, it’s also something to keep in mind as children grow older and begin to face stressful situations in school and everyday life, as music can be an outlet and a growing opportunity for them.
Music is indeed a universal language that we can all appreciate. A baby’s first sounds are more aligned with singing than speaking, and that connection to this art form doesn’t stop there. Music is a form of expression, a way to learn and a tool to build confidence. Music is a part of our everyday lives and as parents, this art form can be supported and encouraged to further a child’s development.