As parents, we have only a finite amount of time to connect with our children before they grow up. Singing and making music can profoundly support our child’s development in many ways.Â Plus, when we sing and make music together, we can form life-long family bonds.
Parents and caregivers contribute enormously to the enrichment of their child’s music development–regardless of their own music abilities. Music education expert Kenneth K. Guilmartin explains, “It is not important that you sing or move well; it is important that you model singing and moving for your child.”
Studies show that music supports all learning by promoting creativity, personal expression, and social interaction. Music is not just fun–it also helps children develop a host of other important skills, such as language, concentration, social skills, confidence, and self-esteem.
Participating in music making with our children, is not only pleasurable and nurturing for them, but will most likely give parents more confidence as well.
- Simply sing and dance with your child! The best thing you can do to help set your child on the road to a lifelong love of music is to participate enthusiastically in music activities yourself. Have you ever noticed how instinctively children try to imitate older siblings and grownups? Imitation is an important part of how they learn. And don’t just put on a CD. Sing, bang a drum or get up and dance.Â Your notes don’t have to be perfect, and you may miss some words or some steps.Â It’s not about that: it’s about showing your child that you enjoy the music you are making with them
- Sing a lullaby to your child before bed. Young children love to hear their grownups sing to them. The sound of your voice, even if it is not pitch-perfect, is precious to your child. A lullaby provides a time to be close to your child physically, emotionally, and musically. For babies and toddlers, it provides a comforting bedtime ritual. For older children, who are increasingly verbal, it is often the time they spontaneously confide their hopes and fears.
- Bring your child to childhood music programs. Young children learn best in a non-formal environment free from performance pressure and undue interference with their natural sense of fun. Classes provide children provide opportunites for music learning as a group and offer them a rich musical repertoire to actively explore, along with the pleasure and support of being with loved ones in a music-making community. A music class is a fun activity that the whole family can participate in and, attending class might just bring out your inner musician as well as your child’s.
It can be challenging for parents to stay focused on the simpler things in life, with so much information and so many choices coming at them on a daily basis. Often families need the gift of space and time: The space to explore music together and the time to create meaningful memories that become a part of the fabric of their lives for many years to come.
Barbi Beyer is a mother of two grown daughters, a songwriter, and a university—trained vocalist, who brings a deep love of music and children to her teaching. Her business, Sing With B Music, encompasses a number of musical ventures, including Music TogetherÂ®, a music and movement classes for infants through five-year-olds and their families.Â She entertains at birthday parties and has performed at a number of small venues over the years. At home in Charlestown, Rhode Island, she enjoys singing in her living room for her two dogs and cat, or while walking in her woods, or sometimes with her husband.