Monday, November 25, 2013

Guest Post - Music and Child Development

Music provides a fantastic way to challenge kids’ developing brains while giving them space to express themselves. Whether it is through a basic rhythm class or private cello lessons, there are a number of fantastic ways to open up the world of music to your child.

Music and the Child Brain

For years, people have believed that music can help young minds. That’s probably why you see mothers playing Mozart to their pregnant bellies. Recently, researchers at Concordia University uncovered that starting music education before age seven is ideal.

In a study of adults with the same musical background but different starting ages, study authors found that musicians who “began musical training before age seven” had more white matter connecting the halves of the brain. Musicians who started their musical training after age seven had brains which more closely resembled non-musicians.

The study tested motor skills that were not music related and demonstrated that early musicians seemed to have an advantage. This “suggests that the benefits of early music training extend beyond the ability to play an instrument.” But in the end, researchers concluded that “while starting early may help you express your genius, it probably won’t make you a genius.”

Ways to Get Your Kids Involved

For parents who want to unlock the benefits of music exposure for their children, there a number of fun possibilities. There is, of course, the traditional option of private music instruction in a classical instrument like the violin, piano or guitar. As kids’ skills improve, they can also play in youth orchestras and in bands with their friends.

For children who love active play, try a dance and creative movement class. If your little one is a want-to-be rock star, enroll him or her in voice lessons or help them learn to sing online. If, on the other hand, your child is still too young to begin formal musical training, there are also many rhythm classes which parents can enjoy with their babies and toddlers. These are all great options for exposing children to music and helping them grow.

Keeping a Balance

It is important to keep a balanced approach when encouraging kids to play music. Learning an instrument requires discipline and focus. So it is key to make sure that children are having a good time and finding opportunities to exercise their new skills. Find opportunities for them to display their growing ability with friends and family, and this can encourage kids to continue pursuing their instruments.  

Music is an amazing tool to enhance a child’s growth and development. While it won’t make them more intelligent, learning music can unlock more of a child’s natural potential and help to connect pathways in the brain.
Jessica Socheski is a freelance writer who loves discovering ways to help kids grow. You can follow her on Google+.


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