Being in tune with music

Music is everywhere. It is playing on street corners, our cell phone ringtone, in waiting rooms, and in almost every advert. You hear it reverberating from someone’s earbuds on the tram, from a mum as she soothes her child, and even in our doorbell as it rings “Ding, ding, dong” to announce a guest.  

But where does the journey of music begin for a child? According to National Level Musician and Music Educator Qi, the earlier the better!  

Babies already show musical behaviours that act as a form of communication, and young children have their own natural music as they perform freely and imitate musical behaviours (Qi, 2012). Music is an essential ingredient in children’s development as it improves cognition, confidence, and coordination (Rowell, 2010). It supports wellbeing and engagement with others through “critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and communication” (Kim 2017).  

I can personally attest to this myself since musical play and preforming filled our house since I was young. Reflecting on some of my musical experiences from childhood, some of the best ideas I’ve had came to me through the words of a song. When I’ve needed space to deal with emotions, music has been an outlet or verbalisation of how I feel.

Yet what I remember the most is the musical experiences that have sparked my passion to teach it even today. Teaching music, I can see that if a water bottle could become a shaker or a paint can be used as a drum, then children can problem solve creatively by looking at obstacles in new and creative ways. 

It is never too early or too late to appreciate all that music can bring to our lives and the lives of the young learners we are connected to. Here are some helpful ideas I have learned from my experience I wanted to share with you! 

  • Introduce children to music, musicals, musical events that excite or inspire you, your passion can inspire them. Express that it is okay to explore what they like, and it may be different from you or their friends. 
  • Pay attention to sound. Though I love listening to music, it can be rare that we have absolute silence. When is music playing around you? How long is it playing? Are they stressful or busy situations only, or peaceful and relaxing ones too? Are there spaces where you or your family can go when someone needs a rest from sound? 
  • Allow for random expressions of music. Research shows that as adults we engage activities differently than children. We can share about instruments, music theory, and more, but cultivate creativity and leave room for experimentation.  
  • Encourage different responses to music: Story writing, drama, dancing, painting, writing song lyrics, sign language, recording themselves to hear differently they sound on the computer or iPad. 
  • Be specific in what you liked about their musical expressions and verbalise when you see growth or success.  
  • Join in! Children don’t care if you look silly or have a great voice, they care that you participate. Role modelling resilience and perseverance go a long way.
  • Take advantage of the many useful resources that are available to support you! Send us a message on Story Park, browse the FUSE website for early childhood music, and tune in to the videos provided by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as a good start.  

Happy music-making to you and your children!

This article was contributed by Racheal