Friday, November 23, 2012

Music is for Everyone

Although every culture has had a highly valued musical history, it has only been through the research of recent decades that we have come to understand the greater value of music in our own lives. Music has been linked to increased verbal skills, better test scores and stronger memory. And while we may look at this data as a positive vote for music in our lives, it is  perhaps the emotional connection with music that we can relate to best.

As infants we were soothed with quiet tunes and lullabies that sent us off to sleep. As young children we discovered the pure job of simple songs that we could sing ourselves. The rhythm, pitch and lyrics drew us into the music with an undeniable emotional component that lingers into adulthood. I'm sure you've had the experience of hearing a tune or song that reaches back into your memory recalling events, people, feelings, and it brings a smile to your face just to hear it. Music has a power all its own.

While music is entertaining for children it is also helping mold their mental, emotional, social and physical development. This is evidenced when we see the happy face of a child bouncing, dancing, clapping, and singing with someone they trust and love. While they are having a wonderful time they are also heightening spatial awareness, improving listening, concentration and speech. Music has also been linked to jump starting reading and language skills.

Music can:
  • Stimulate brain growth prenatally and is the first form of communication
  • Be the basis for understanding the physical world through sound patterns
  • Reduce stress or physical pain, even in infancy
  • Enhance motor development
  • Strengthen and improve language and communication skills
  • Open emotional expression and creativity
  • Improve pre-academic and academic skills - particularly reading, writing, mathematics and memorization
  • Introduce the joy of community and strengthen self identity
Regular music instruction has been particularly linked to increased test scores throughout the school years. Early childhood programs rely on a strong musical component to each day. As a nanny I have made concerted efforts to expose the children to a variety of music daily.

We have been known to sing through our whole day, all verbal communication was in song (we thought it was fun to create our own opera). Music has been a tool to encourage quiet time. It was a great transition to nap time and as they grew out of naps a way to allow for quiet activities such as reading or working a puzzle with gentle music in the background. Even now as young adults they use music to relax or de-stress and so do I.
All the children that I've nannied for have been enrolled in instrument instruction from an early age which has given them another tool of communication and is a source of real joy to them. Music instruction can start with fun programs designed for infants, toddlers and preschoolers which expose children to rhythm, pitch and patterns in a playful environment. If children show an interest in playing an instrument there are a number of child friendly methods and teachers available. Although, interest in an instrument should be child initiated it often falls to the adults to encourage the required practice. Music programs that work with the whole family are helpful in offering strategies to make practice time more fun with games, goal setting and positive reinforcement techniques. For some children and families formal instruction comes to an end for various reasons, but the value of that experience stays with the child well into adulthood.

I find it amazing that music, which has been available to us our whole lives, can have such a powerful effect on the mind and body. Truly music is for everyone!

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