Music education at home – why it’s a must
More and more parents these days realize the importance of early music education in their children’s development. If a local preschool offers regular music classes for children, they’re happy to sign their little ones up. And that’s fantastic! But the real question remains – is that enough?
Let’s use a little analogy here. How effective do you think it would be to learn a foreign language if your only contact with it would be in a class of 20 people – once, maybe twice a week for 30 minutes? I guess after a year of such education you’d be able to introduce yourself, ask for directions and maybe declaim a very simple poem, but not much more… If you’ve ever tried to take language classes, you can probably relate to that. Unfortunately, the same applies to music – if your kids have access to music education only once or twice a week for a few minutes in preschool, they won’t make much progress… even if they are in their sensitive period for music! (You can learn more on sensitive periods here)
But that’s not the only problem… Starting music education in preschool or even later than that is just not soon enough. Let’s get back to our language analogy. Imagine not speaking to or around your kids for the first 3 or 4 years of their life. No conversations at the dinner table, no talking while bathing the kids or playing with them… You just kind of wait for preschool teachers to the job for you and teach your kids to speak. That sounds absurd, right?
But if you change the word “speak” to “sing”, “dance” or “play an instrument” it doesn’t seem so absurd anymore… it’s just what people do.
Music education – more than classes at school
I know that many people in many different countries complain about their education systems. We do that a lot in Poland and I know many of you worldwide can relate, too. It seems that there’s always not enough foreign language classes nor time spent on music education or visual arts – and we feel that our children’s potential is not fully used and supported. Many of us then sign our kids for additional private lessons – and that’s fine! But at the same time, we tend to forget that most of our children’s education happens not at school… but at home! We’d like the schools and kindergartens to take the responsibility for teaching our children music and arts, to stimulate their imagination, talent and potential – but it’s kind of like wanting these institutions to teach kids how to walk, drink from a cup or blow their noses. I specifically chose such basic abilities and not something fancy like horseback riding, because at such early stages music, language and art abilities are natural for kids and are best developed and supported at home, in everyday life.
All children have a natural music potential and are able to learn to sing, play an instrument or move rhythmically. As a society, we tend to think that music talent is something very rare and extraordinary – but that’s simply not true! Just look at all the kids singing and dancing beautifully in talent shows!
Every kid has some musical and artistic potential – a little grain of this mystical thing we call a talent. Of course, some grains are bigger than others. But the ability to sing clearly and move rhythmically is hidden in every little child. The thing is: it’s the soil that decides if our little grain will grow into something magnificent. So, it’s all up to child’s environment, not only at school, but also – and most importantly – at home.
Everyone can engage in homemade music education
Parents’ or caregivers’ active participation is crucial to child’s music development. And the most beautiful thing is that every one of you can provide your children with rich musical environment. You don’t have to be musician for that. Your own musical talent doesn’t have to be fully developed. You don’t even have to know how to play any specific instrument! A little creativity and your own body that can sing (even off key!), clap hands, move to the rhythm, make different noises – that’s more than enough! And if you happen to have a drum, some maracas or even kitchen cutlery at hand, you’re all set for stimulating your child’s potential. Remember that it is you as a parent who is the greatest authority figure for you child – not his or hers preschool music teacher. Your child wants to imitate your musical behavior and habits just as she or he listens to you while learning to speak or watches you while learning to walk.
Don’t worry if you feel that you yourself don’t have a good ear for music. You can effectively stimulate your child’s potential DESPITE of your own lack of professional music education. It’s not about your own talent, but rather creating opportunities for your child’s talent to grow. Here’s another language analogy – take a family of immigrants in a foreign country. You can often tell that parents are not native speakers of the country’s language, because their accent gives them away. But their children can learn to speak perfectly fluent and flawless in this new language – as long as parents encourage them and provide them with a rich language environment.
Music education at home – easier than you think!
So your job is basically to create a rich musical environment at home. And frankly, it’s much easier than it sounds! Children learn through play – I guess that’s not a new concept to you. All you need to do is to find ways to include dancing, singing and different forms of music activity into your child’s life and your fun family moments. Diversity is a crucial thing here. Let’s go back to our language analogy one more time. Imagine speaking to you child using only simple babbling and the typical children jargon – these are sounds and words familiar to the child, but not very helpful in developing vocabulary and full language skills… Children learn to speak by listening to you use variety of different words and phrases.
It’s the same with music. Don’t limit your family music experiences to a few nursery rhymes children picked up at preschool. Try to introduce them to different instruments, songs and styles – and show them music can be fun! I know that parents who are not professional musicians can feel like they need some guidance through homemade music education – and that’s exactly the reason why I write this blog and the reason our Pomelody program was designed for! It provides you with simple tools, songs, exercises and play time ideas to create a musically rich environment at home. You can learn more about the program here.
And if you’re looking for some inspiration for music education at home and quality time with you children, check my other blog entries like the easy DIY instruments series or music-based games to play together.
Now you know that at early stages of life music talents develop easily through homemade music education and immersion in a rich musical environment at home. You’ve also learned that creating such an environment is in fact easier than you think!