More and more we are hearing how music can help with our children’s cognitive development and that a musical education is vital to their development, especially in the early years before the age of 9.  What does that mean to a parent?  How do we make sure that we are providing the best possible musical environment for our children?

There is much more to music than simply “how do I play this instrument”.  Every child has two separate musical aptitudes that need to be fostered:  melody and rhythm.  We’re not all great at both!  Before we think about learning to play an instrument we need to develop these skills. 

The first thing you can do with your child is an activity that helps establish a sense of beat in the whole body (marching, dancing, jumping, stomping, hopping to the music).  Kids of all ages love drums.  Let them bang the pots and pans, or purchase some kid-durable percussion instruments and put on some music that you enjoy.

Secondly … sing.  A live voice is much better for your child’s musical development than a CD or the TV.  Nursery rhymes, children’s songs, songs you love, or songs your parents sang to you … share these with your child.

Also, help your child build a large musical vocabulary.  Expose your child to songs from many different time periods, cultures, styles, sounds.  We learn to understand what something is by  knowing what it is not.  Having this vocabulary will help your child once you decide to begin formal music lessons.

Above all, have fun.  Music is an international language; it brings people together; it makes us smile.  Don’t be afraid to share the joy of music with your little one.