Whether you have high aspirations for your child in the area of music or not, learning and listening to music is highly advantageous for your child.
It is common for mothers of very young children to sing to them, in order to calm them at the end of the day, so that they go to sleep. Hymns and patriotic music are played in official occasions and conventions, to arouse patriotic feelings in people. Loud and fast music with strong tempo is played at parties, to motivate people to dance and "have fun". "Romantic" type music is played in movies as accompaniment for romantic scenes.
Music has the power to change our mood and affect us in ways no other tool can.
In addition to all that and most important for our children, it has been shown in research and statistics, that listening to music results in the creation of special neural connections in our brain, neural connections that increase our intelligence. There is a very interesting correlation between math and music, and it has been shown that people who are mathematically inclined, are also talented in music. Learning musical theory is very enriching to a child, and listening and playing music is a superior tool for the development of the audio memory.
Above all, when your child is learning to play music, he is achieving all this growth, while having fun and enjoying themselves. Offer to your child the opportunity to take music lessons, to choose hisr favorite instrument, and let him decide if and when he is interested. If your child is not interested in the present moment, don't forget to offer it again later, your child might be ready to start at a different time.
If you love music, or are interested in music yourself, why not do this activity with your child? It will bring you closer together, and strengthen the bond you have with your child forever! Music is an excellent tool to improve your relationship with your child, especially during the "difficult" teenager years.
Babies and Toddlers:
Start with listening to music. If you have a newborn, or a young baby, you can play classical music during the day, while you are doing all other activities. It is also good to play soft, classical music while the child is asleep. A good time to play classical music is while your are driving with your baby in the car. But don't limit yourself just to classical music! Play children's songs, sing to your child and with your child often. Another thing you can do is taking your child to concerts. If possible, you can take your child to a concert, maybe with a partner or a friend, and agree ahead of time that if the baby cries, one of you takes the baby out. See how it goes. You might have a baby that is naturally quiet in concerts. Another thing you can do, is taking the baby to outdoor concerts. In most cities, during the summer there are free outdoor concerts of different styles of music. Those are excellent opportunities to expose babies and toddlers to different styles of music, while they can watch the players and the different instruments.
Very young children can start learning to play a musical instrument. There are many teachers that are trained to work with babies, and especially the Suzuki method was developed with the very young in mind. Make sure you find a teacher that understands children! When my son was a baby (about 18 months old) I have taken him to a piano teacher who claimed to be an expert in young children. However, she has expected her young students to sit quietly for extended periods of time, listening to other children play. She has reprimanded us when Eric got up and tried to walk around during a long recital. This teacher didn't have children of her own, and did not understand how to work with children and what can be expected. The teacher we have found later really knew how to engage Eric in the lessons, and how to adjust her lessons plan to his interests.
For parents, who would like to find a suitable music teacher for their children in their area, here is a directory of music teachers: www.musicstaff.com.
School Aged Children:
Since the cost cutting measures many school districts have taken, music is hardly taught in school any more. If your child has not taken any music lessons yet, make sure your child is exposed to different kinds of music. One trick that worked for me was, playing the classical music channel while we had to drive in the car. Having a busy schedule, like most people nowadays, we spent a long time in the car, and I took the opportunity to play classical music from the radio, or from CD's.
A highly recommended activity that children love, is learning to play an instrument "by ear". This is an excellent method of strengthening the audio discrimination of your child. This will have a profound effect on your child's learning ability. A good program for learning to play the guitar is provided by Jamorama. This program is an excellent place to start, until your child is ready to go to music lessons, or if it's difficult for you to enroll your child in guitar lessons at the moment. Your child can use this program at the privacy of your own home. Your child will learn to play popular music, and maybe later will be interested in classical guitar.
Whether your child is taking music lessons or not, playing an instrument or not, make sure to provide for your child ample of opportunities to listen to music, and to watch other people playing a variety of instruments. When my son was a about 13, he has requested to go to a concert of a popular band. We wanted to support him, and thought that it would be a great opportunity for us all to enjoy music together, so my husband and I bought 3 tickets to the concert. The music was so loud, that we could not take it. As we left the concert hall, a savvy fan has offered to give us some of those things that you put in your ears to block the noise. We went back in, and enjoyed the rest of the concert with our son, who was having a great time! In my son's opinion, we were the coolest parents, making it possible for him to attend the concert, and enjoying the evening with him. You want to expose your child to many types and styles of music, not just what he is naturally exposed by his friends. Go to concerts together, (even if the style of music is not your favorite).
Let your child listen to "oldies", he might like it! Tell him stories about old singers, especially the singers that you like and admire.
Music is an excellent tool to increase your child's intelligence and his audio memory and discrimination, while enriching his enjoyment in life. It gives your child the opportunity to meet other children their age, participate in recitals and bands, and excel in one more area. It is advantageous for children of all ages, from infant to college students (and adults), and gives you, the parent, the opportunity to enjoy this activity with your children and strengthen your bond and friendship with your child.