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Parents as Teachers

March 19, 2011

Everyday as a parent, you are teaching your child about the world and about themselves.  I see music as an integral element mediating a young child’s experience of the world that is often neglected or lazily taught. Simply because everyone is able to learn music and how to be musical does not mean that we can learn all on our own.

Sing to your babyThis is why parents are so important in the process of this particular sphere of education, one that colours so much of our daily lives (all aural perception). Dr Shinitsi Suzuki said that a child’s music education should start 9 months before the birth of the mother!

For most of us, this means a lot of catching up. It’s hard to know how to teach something that we seem to always just have known, or that we may have no idea about. We could question whether we should have to teach it at all.  But at Music Works Magic we see music as something to be shared and experimented with and talked, or indeed, sung about – not something to be neglected. Our teachers can help you to share music with your child at home in ways that will create a wonderful musical foundation for life. We model singing that is developmentally appropriate for your child and we will teach you how to evoke these responses from your child in a fun and gentle manner. We can show you how to musically communicate in a pitch and method that your child will innately understand.

music is sound in time and spaceRepetition is essential for learning and as a parent you can support your child’s growing mastery of their singing voice, by making singing a part of each day at home. As your child learns you will become much more comfortable with your own voice as well!

How Can you Help

  • Practice the songs your child has learned that week at home, in the car, walking in the park or wherever you both feel comfortable
  • Sometimes you might enjoy taking turns at choosing which song or which verse to sing and, using props to create your own musical experiences at home.
  • Play our CDs at home – these will reinforce your child’s listening skills and reinforce their ‘singing voice’ as they sing along. Our Cds, unlike most commercial material available for children, are pitched in keys that will make a huge difference to your child’s developing ability to sing in tune.

Starting the Musical Journey

March 14, 2011

As with adults, new and unfamiliar situations can be daunting for children – this is to be expected and is quite natural. We all take time to feel comfortable and it may therefore mean that your child may not begin to actively participate in class for several weeks. Equally, your child may not be receptive in their assigned weekly ‘music time’ and therefore may not engage as much as they usually do.

How parents can help

Often the best way to encourage your child’s participation is by joining in yourself, therefore modelling the behaviour you want to see in them.

If your child needs to wander and explore, allow this to happen for a time, as long as no other child is being hurt or distracted.

Remain calm and gently bring your child back into the activity participating together.  Remember, as a proactive parent, you help your child make the most of each opportunity and help them to grow.

The Importance of Early Childhood Music

January 31, 2011

Even before a child learns to speak, they learn to communicate and connect with song and sound. Children respond naturally to music.evoking musical responses from babies

Some suggest that babies are born with inherent musical capabilities because their responses to music are immediate and instinctive – they are not learned.

While every child can enjoy, learn and grow through music, there is increasing evidence to show that active participation in musical activities can actually alter the anatomy and development of the brain.

Researchers believe that early musical experiences intensify the development of neuronal synapses. By increasing the number of interconnections between brain cells, music essentially enhances a child’s ability to think, learn, reason and create.

It is important to note however, that for music to have a profound effect on brain development, a child must physically engage in musical activities. Furthermore, these activities must provide a comprehensive sensory experience. It is not enough for a child just to listen to music.

Early childhood music programs where teachers simply put on a recording and where parents don’t actively participate alongside their children, have limited value.

Children need to feel, make, hear and memorise sounds and patterns; to sing, clap dance and remember movements.  The quality and timing of these musical experiences evoking musical responses from childrenare paramount.

There are many ways in which as a parent or care-giver, you can support your child on their musical journey of discovery.  By taking an active role, parents model the behaviour – singing, vocalising, moving and keeping the beat – for their child.

Ideally, parents should aim to expose their children to musical activities prior to age two when the proliferation of neuronal synapses is at its peak. The process continues up to the age of seven years.

And given that human beings learn by trial and error and by repetition, making music a part of your daily activities will support your child in finding their own special voice.

Anna Mlynek-Kalman,  M. Mus., B. Ed., Dip Teach A.Mus.A.

Director, Music Works Magic