“It's A Big World”
I first introduced my oldest child to music when she was about 3 months old. It was a song called " It's A Big World" by Renee and Jeremy. I found it on YouTube while desperately searching for lullabies to soothe her. Since then, it has quieted my own kids and many of my patients. Infants, toddlers and even younger children seem to calm down when listening to this lullaby (usually in the car). Parents on the other hand likely feel bittersweet as it can be irritating at best, but halts the piercing screams. Music can often change our moods, bring us back to past experiences and instantly allow us to connect with our current mood. Even for those of us who are not thought of as music lovers we can easily assimilate it into our lives and our children's lives with a positive impact. Music should be a part of our kids' lives just as reading, outside time and pretend play should be. Whether it be a mommy and me music class, instrumental music during nap time, singing with mom or dad, try to make music a part of your days with your littles. It can help develop language skills, listening skills and creates a time to bond. It can also help to develop their neural connections.
Now, the question many of you may have is " when do I introduce formal music instruction to my kiddos?" There are various opinions out there, but most of what I've read says around 4. It also varies depending on which instrument. For example, piano lessons should start no earlier than 5y. At this age, their fingers are large enough to navigate the piano and they have a longer (albeit still short) attention span. Piano is a great starting point because the finger movements on the piano are easier than say the guitar. Guitar playing requires a fair amount of fingertip pressure so they say 8 y is a good age to start learning. Voice lessons at around 13 y bc of proper breathing techniques and vocal cord development. Another important consideration is the interest of the child in a particular area. If they aren’t at least a bit interested they will easily become overwhelmed. Similarly, if they start formal instruction too early, they may become overwhelmed. On a positive note, even if they do not stick with the one instrument, the principles that they learn with one will likely translate to the next.
So remember to sing even if you can’t carry a tune (our kids never care)….just another way to engage your kids. Dance too. It's good for the soul.