Children are magically drawn to music. A big master of music said:
“If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” - Shinichi Suzuki (Japanese violinist and teacher who introduced millions of children to his musical "Suzuki Method")
The importance of tones, melodies and music for our children’s development start early.
Since the fourth month after conception kids have the ability to listen to the rythm and melody of their mother’s voice. The newborn child will likely react positively and show recognition of songs sung by its parents during pregnancy. Reseacher Annie Murphy on TED explains that newborns can even cry in the dialect of their mother! The sense of melody and rythm begins in the womb and will be mostly formed up to three years of age.
Letting your children hear music, move to music and join in when you sing and play, will give the child’s brain and memory a good boost.
My own experiences show how children playfully learn a second language through music. I play in English with Italian 2 to 3 years old. They hear this second language just a couple a times a week and have a limited vocabulary of their own language. The lack they have in expressing themselvs in words has never been an obstacle to include them in my games.
The approach I use, inspired by super simple learning, is seeing the English language as a variety of music and expose the kids to it’s different melodies and rythms.
Some advices how to use music and dancing with children:
Repeat the same song - Young children love to repeat the same things over and over again. They feel safe if they know what will happen.
Sing Slow - be aware to sing slow,this makes it easier for children to participate and understand words and melody.
Tone height - The voice of a child is higher as the one of the adult. Adapt your singing to their level.
Action songs - Song with actions help him remember the words and tune.
Moving to Music - Expose your child to a variety of music from rock to classical ballet and encourage him to move in different ways.
For babies and toddlers: If your child is little let him sit on your knee or rest in your arms while you move to the music. Move up and down with the tones, slow and fast with the rythm, soft and strong with the volume. This help the child to listen and respond to all aspects of the sounds.
For older children: Clap out the rythm or tap it out on the table.
Use instruments: Make them yourselves: all it need is a used box and two wooden spoons! Or empty Bottles with pasta, rice, or whatever you like to listen to inside.
Musical play is a lovely tool that stimulates your child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. And the best is that you can use music everywhere and anytime: Inside or outdoors, as we show you in this cute video! Have fun!
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Angelique Felix believes in play. She lives in Italy and provides many play sessions for both parents and children. She's also an instructor in infant massage. Angelique works with the Reggio Emilia-approach in her play sessions. Please visit Angelique's blog or her YouTube channel to learn more about her and her approach to playful learning.