Show Your Child the Wonder of Music
Brought to you by the National PTA®
Evidence for the educational value of the arts has grown steadily over the years. High school students who study at least one of the arts, -- theater, the visual arts, dance, and music -- score about 40 points higher on the verbal and math sections of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than other students.
For example, a team of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, has shown that musical activity has a positive effect on certain abstract types of reasoning.
Just as "reading readiness" provides a base for building reading skills, "arts readiness" can prepare your youngster for a lifetime of enjoyment and fulfillment from the arts. While most parents would be delighted to have a Pavarotti or Perlman in their family, it's important to remember that the goal of music readiness is simply to enjoy music in all its forms. Use the following guide to teach your little one about music at each stage of infancy and childhood.
By its third trimester in the womb, the fetus hears its mother's heartbeat. Evidence suggests that by this stage of pregnancy, a fetus hears other sounds, including voices and music. At this point, it's not too early to expose your baby to musical experiences that will build a "soundbank" of tones she'll use when she begins to create her own music.
Babies and Toddlers
In the first two years of life, virtually all kinds of music are valuable for your child's later musical development. Expose your children to all sorts of music: classical, folk music, bluegrass, country-and-western, gospel, rock-and-roll, so-called "kiddie" songs, and music from other cultures. Short pieces of up to four minutes long are best.
Take time to listen to this music with your child, and allow him to move to the rhythm (at this age, youngsters can barely sit still). Don't forget to express your own enjoyment by smiling, singing along, or tapping time.
As you introduce your child to music, remember that acoustic, unamplified sounds are best for teaching cause and effect. Children learn far more from a close-up look at a guitarist plucking strings or a clarinetist blowing into her instrument than from merely hearing music through a stereo speaker. Acoustic sounds are also easier for young listeners to handle; loud noises can be alarming or frightening.
Is your school doing a good job of introducing your kids to music? Read The National PTA's Guide to School Music Programs to find out.
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