Thoughtful Parenting: Music and your child |

Thoughtful Parenting: Music and your child

Sari Davidson
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Music making is as much a natural life skill as walking and talking. All children can achieve basic music competence — singing in tune and physically keeping the beat — during their first six years of life provided they are exposed to a rich, music-making environment.

Early childhood is an important time for music development because that’s when neural pathways in the brain develop most rapidly. Without sufficient stimulation during this critical developmental window, a child’s inborn potential for musical growth will not be achieved.

Through age 6, children learn rapidly through the magical process of play. Encourage your child’s musical development by modeling how to play with music: sing to your child, chant together, dance and bounce your child up and down as you sing.

Opportunities exist everywhere. Savor a variety of music from other cultures, attend live concerts and provide child-friendly instruments, such as drums, shakers and bells, for your child to experiment with. Establish musical routines such as lullabies at bedtime or nap time, clean-up songs after bath time, car commuting tunes and sing silly songs spontaneously made up throughout the day.

Remember to relax and have fun with it. You do not need to sing in tune or keep a beat correctly. Did you know that children often first sing the end notes of a song and that funny dog and cat noises can help your children find their upper register? Each time your child engages in music play with you, they will learn volumes.

Music education for preschool age and younger is often underestimated. Early childhood music education supports language development and emergent literacy, social and emotional growth, cognition and general knowledge, and physical and motor development. While you are making up new verses to itsy-bitsy spider, chanting choo-choo as the train goes by and shaking homemade maracas, you are stimulating your child’s evolving brain.

Just remember, like learning how to walk or learning how to talk, music takes practice. Maintaining a rich music environment throughout your child’s early years ensures the best chance for his or her easy and enjoyable participation in music later in life.

Sari Davidson is the center director of Music Together Steamboat, an internationally recognized music education program for children through age 5 and their caregivers. For more information, visit

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