Music Supports All Learning

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I recently adopted my beautiful daughter Katie from China! Knowing how universal music is, I sent a CD of myself singing songs to a small city half way around the world in the hopes that Katie would hear it, get to know my voice, become familiar with songs I would sing to her in person and begin her exposure to English.  It has been an incredible source of comfort for her and music has played an enormous part in her overall development since she’s been home.  She loves it!!

Music has the power to affect change in us at any age and in any language!

Most moms have read that the years between birth and 5 are critical for maximizing learning potential in their children. Your child’s brain is growing at lightning speed, taking in every experience and making the millions of neural pathways that create the foundation for how we learn, what we learn, and who we will be. Music can play a key role in creating that foundation!

The amazing thing is that music is one of the most integrated life skills we have.

Music, especially in conjunction with movement, results in different parts of the brain being used simultaneously. Research has shown that the more parts of our brain we use at once, the stronger the learning experience (neural connections) will be. That’s one of the reasons why it’s easier for us to remember something that is put to music…like ABCs.

The skills we use when we sing and dance include tonality & rhythm (music skills), language development, spatial reasoning, emotion, listening skills, gross and fine motor skills, creativity, communication, turn taking, predictability, division and the list goes on and on – we use our whole self.  When we make music with our children we are helping them develop into not only a musical person but a whole human being.

Music allows our children, from an early age, to tap into the development of these life skills. Particularly language development! Its a dynamic tool for learning because even as infants, we can connect and respond to music.

Dr. Sandra Trehub, renowned researcher and Director at the Music Development Lab at U of T has stated that

“infant’s early experience with songs sung by loving parents help intensify and stabilize the child’s emotional connection with the parents.  Music – specifically song – is one of the best training grounds for babies learning to recognize the tones that add up to spoken language”.

To maximize the potential benefits of music in the early years, here are a few keys to success!

* The learning needs to be informal…not “about music” (theory) but rather “experiencing” a wide variety of music until they are at least 6 years old.  Let them experiment and explore with freedom and joy!

* Playing a CD for your child isn’t enough.  As with language, children MUST have live, interactive music making experiences (preferably in a group setting) where the people they trust are singing and moving…modeling all of those important life skills!

* Music is a cumulative learning experience. Exposure needs to be consistent in order to reap the benefits.

All children are born musical.  Whether or not you feel you are a musical person, you can capitalize on the potential your child is born with, thereby maximizing the developmental benefits that go along with being a musical person…being a whole person!

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About Author

Risa Waldman is the Director of Making Music Together, providing outstanding early childhood music and movement classes in Toronto for 10 years. Born in Toronto, her background includes studies of Piano, Cello, Music Theory & History through The Royal Conservatory of Music, Developmental Psychology and Children’s Literature at The University of Toronto. Risa is an accomplished singer/dancer/actor having performed on stages across Canada, the U.S. and as far away as Japan She is also a graduate of the Banff Centre for Fine Arts. Risa is actively involved in Children’s Television and Theatre as a choreographer and director. She can be seen in commercials, TV & Film and was recently a judge for the Canadian Juno Awards. She has been praised for outstanding achievement in teaching, musicianship, program philosophy and parent education. Join Risa on Facebook or contact her at 416-833-1231.

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