Why Music Is Important For Your Child’s Development
Most kids respond innately to music—whether they’re dancing, singing along to a song, or covering their ears. As your child grows and develops, their musical world will expand—the sounds they notice will be more specific, their fine motor skills will allow exploration of smaller instruments, and they may even be able to listen to an entire song (most days!).
From the simplest lullaby to the most complex sonata and everything in between, music holds many possibilities to help your child connect with themselves and others, express themselves fully, and attain developmental milestones. Even if you don’t consider yourself a musician (or you only sing in the shower), here are three reasons to make music in your children’s lives:
Music is organizing. Rhythmic patterns, melodies, and tempos all combine to make a cohesive whole. A certain song might help your child get out of bed in the morning or they might always dance to a particular song or genre of music. Have you found your child is more responsive to upcoming changes if you sing about them? (Use a simple melody like “Twinkle, Twinkle” or “Row your Boat”). Listening to a specific kind of music at a specific time can help your child anticipate and prepare for what comes next (i.e. a Beatles song after dinner to transition to bathtime).
Music is calming. Lullabies at bedtime are always a great place to start. You might also sing with your child—try one song, progressively slower and slower, so they can really feel their breath and body relax. Be open to trying different kinds of music—Classical, bluegrass, New Age, slow jazz, the possibilities are endless. Another fun idea is to ask your child to find one little sound and listen to it until it goes away. As long as this is approached playfully, any sound will do—a bird outside, the elevator’s rumble, or music heard down the hall.
Music is playful. Dance, play, sing with your child! it’s not about being “perfect” or “doing it right”, it’s about connecting with your child in a stress-free way with no expectations. Music provides a way to be creative and explore, and will give your child the confidence to try something new and improvise. When we improvise—whether in life or in music—we learn how to adapt to changes, initiate new ideas, and be present in each moment. So grab some maracas and play along together with some recorded music, use some scarves and dance around to the beat, or see who can hold a note the longest. It’s all about fun, connection, and spontaneity.
In the spirit of recognizing the power of music that has been around for so long, here’s a quote from Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”
By Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT. Maya is a board-certified and licensed music therapist with an NYC-based private practice, where she works with children of all ages and needs and their families. Her holistic, child-centered approach utilizes individualized music-based interventions to address social, emotional, and developmental needs. For more information, visit Maya’s website, follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.