Learning how to play a musical instrument in early childhood has been found to have a great effect on brain development. In fact, according to a 2013 study published by Journal of Neuroscience, titled “Early Musical Training and White-Matter Plasticity in the Corpus Callosum: Evidence for a Sensitive Period”, the left and right brain hemispheres of children who started music lessons before the age of 7 had better connectivity than those who didn’t. This means that these children’s different regions of the brain -- for example, the area for hearing and the one controlling fine motor movements -- are better synchronized.
Even before such studies have been published, however, parents have already known that there is something about music that is good for their kids. It may be the discipline acquired from practicing to play an instrument, or perhaps it is the confidence that comes with performing that parents want for their children. Certainly, knowing how to play the piano, the guitar, or the violin can make a child popular among his peers.
Beneficial as it may be, regular music lessons can be quite expensive and demand a significant amount of time and devotion. What should you know before enrolling your child in private music lessons?
1. Music is joy Parents have different reasons for wanting their children to learn how to play an instrument, but there is no higher purpose to music than finding and reveling in the joy in it. Encouraging this attitude towards music will let your child enjoy his lessons more, as opposed to requiring technical expertise from him right away.
Ford Pundamiera, who teaches recorder, piano, flute, and cello at Kolisko Waldorf School and homeschool provider Catholic Filipino Academy, advises parents that music enjoyment is critical in a student’s success in playing any instrument.
2. The best first instrument is the voice Liaa Patag, a soprano from the Philippine Madrigal Singers and freelance choral conductor, says that the best first instrument is our voice because we already have it inside our body. She says, “You can learn to read notes and sing without any other instrument.”
It is important that a child has a good singing model, so Liaa encourages parents to sing with their young child on a daily basis. However, if you sing out of tune, taking voice lessons yourself will help you sing correctly, and in the process help your child develop a good ear for music.
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3. Start with music and movement experiences Music and movement classes provide good musical exposure to children. These classes help children experience and learn about different kinds of music, rhythm, and musical beats while doing what they love best - move.
Programs like Kindermusik engage children in age-appropriate musical activities that help them with language, social-emotional, physical, and creative skills. Of course, a lifelong love of music is naturally developed. If such classes are inaccessible to your family, you can always search for ideas on the Internet on what you can do at home. These will involve swaying, dancing, singing, and playing simple instruments with your child.
4. Exposure to different instruments is important In order for a child to have a meaningful relationship with music, he needs to be exposed to different kinds of instruments. The objective is not mastery of a particular instrument, but to give him a positive experience with it.
When a child is allowed to experience and explore different instruments such as the drum, recorder, glockenspiel, or the piano, he is able to discover on his own how it works. Discovery always ignites interest.
5. Provide musical experiences outside lessons Listening is the first way that a child experiences music; parents should take care in choosing what to let their child listen to. At home, listen to and enjoy a wide variety of music together; tap the beat on your child’s body or dance with your toddler for him to be immersed in the music.
When your child is around 3 or 4 years old, you can already bring him to watch ballets and concerts of choirs, pianists, or orchestras. The U.P. College of Music, for one, regularly holds concerts of its students and faculty at Abelardo Hall.