There is so much emphasis on teaching young children letter and number recognition, that many preschools simply do not have the time to properly incorporate music into their program. Music education should be more than singing a few children’s songs, or chanting some fingerplays. Little children are capable of so much more! Just attend any concert put on by Suzuki music programs, and watch the three- and four-year-olds play their violins. It is breath-taking.
I had two close friends whose daughters were about the same age as my oldest child, and all the girls were taking music lessons – theirs on the piano, and mine on the violin. The two moms exhibited the extremes of parental opinion in regards to their child’s music. The one mom clasped both hands to her breast, and with a dreamy expression on her face proclaimed, “It just brings me such joy to hear my child practice! To think than any child of mine would have so much talent is a true blessing!” The other mom snorted, remarking, “Thank God for electric pianos! She can plug in the ear phones and I don’t have to hear it.” I was somewhere in between. I loved hearing my daughter practice, but after listening to ten-thousand twinkles, I was mighty glad when she progressed to the next level.
The benefits of Music for the Young Child
Music develops listening skills! Music helps children express their emotions. Music and dance can give children a healthy way to expend some energy. Creating music fulfills a basic need that many of us have long ignored. And finally, music develops neural pathways in the brain, that lay the foundation for reading and math.
Introduce your preschooler to wide variety of music. Let him listen to classical music, folk music, baroque, romantic, jazz, blues, and more. Have him sing, clap, dance, and move to music. Help him discover sounds. One day he might bang on the back of a pot with a wooden spoon. The next day try beating on an empty oatmeal carton with a rubber spatula. One day you might actually get him a drum. How does it sound when he hits it with his hand, as opposed to the drumsticks?
Here below is Jonathan, a preschool conductor. He is listening to Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, and he doesn’t miss a beat. He knows this piece! He knows what’s going to happen next, he anticipates it, giggling gleefully. In the comments after the video on YouTube, professional musicians said they would have no difficulty following him, and they wished their own conductors were as enthusiastic. The video is precious, but what struck me more than how talented this little guy is, is how joyful he is! I want that joy for my grandchild! I hope all of you can give your young children joy like this.
If you can find a class near you, you might want to look into Music Together. I’ve just discovered it while doing an internet search. I don’t have first-hand information on this program, but I watched their promotional video, and it surely looks good. I contacted a local class in my community, and depending on the cost, may give it a try.
The most important tip of all – have fun! Music should be loved, enjoyed, experienced. It should never be forced.
Little Drummer: by Bev Sykes