(You can’t tell me you didn’t sing that title to the Olivia Newton-John Tune!)
Do you rock your little one to sleep? Do you find yourself pushing the pram or trolley back and forth when standing in a queue? Do you tap your hands on the steering wheel while waiting at the traffic lights?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then you ARE musical!
There are lots of people out there who think that they aren’t musical because they don’t play an instrument or because they can’t read music. Wrong! If you can clap along with other spectators at a football match, hear the difference between sounds that are high or low, know what music is suitable to put a baby to sleep vs. music you would play if you are planning to party all night long, then you do have musical ability.
Children also have musical ability. However, as a parent it is our responsibility to foster the musical development and growth in our children. Children who are sung to, rocked, patted, bounced, pushed back and forth on the swings, or read to, all have the potential to be musical. This must be nurtured in the early years, as by the age of 7, our musical intelligence is essentially established!
As it stands, you yourself would have had these experiences as a child which has shaped how musical you are today.
The best way to develop your child’s musical ability is through musical play. Engaging in musical play can be as simple as “banging on the pots and pans”! In all seriousness though, you would be surprised at how easy it is to do and I’m sure most of you are doing it already.
First of all, SING, SING, And SING! Sing to your baby or child. If you know me, you know I love to sing. It always makes me feel good and I enjoy singing throughout the day. Sing to your little one while changing their nappy, in the bath, in the car, while they are jumping on the trampoline. Anywhere and everywhere. Make up songs as you go and get creative!
Perhaps you could put together a basket of musical instruments and explore your child’s favourite nursery rhymes or books by acting out the stories with your voices and toys, and incorporating the instruments as the sound effects. Try bouncing your child on your knees, or tapping on your child’s feet while saying a simple nursery rhyme. Collect some rocks, flowers, stones at the park and create your own musical patterns. Can you say, sing, clap, or pat these patterns? These simple yet effective activities can easily be added into your everyday play and will not only aid in your child’s development but also in their help to support their musical ability.
Here are a few of the ways Musical play can benefit early childhood development:
Musical play helps to build the foundations for literacy and numeracy
Rhythm and rhyme help to prepare children for language
Singing nursery rhymes and songs helps to expand vocabulary
Learning to keep a steady beat has been linked to improved reading skills and fluency
Finger plays and action rhymes help to develop key fine motor skills
Movement to music helps to strengthen gross motor skills, muscles, balance and spatial awareness
Recognising and creating musical patterns provides important links to mathematical concepts
Exposing your children to music and songs from around the world introduces them to different cultures
Music improves general mood and ability to concentrate
Music aids in the development of social and emotional competence
Plus so much more!
Musical play with your child should be fun, engaging, exploratory and wonderful! I am a firm believer in engaging in musical play all throughout the day – while you are washing the dishes, reading a book, cooking dinner, hanging up the washing, playing with building blocks. These are all fantastic opportunities for developing your child’s musical ability and also for sharing in the joy of singing, moving, playing and making music with your child!
Written by Michaela Ivory, qualified music and singing teacher, mother of three, The Musical Mum.
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