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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

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