Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Music is one of the first languages that babies learn. They know a beat from listening to your heart for 9 months . The gurgle of your stomach and the sound of your voice has rhythm . If you played them music , be it inadvertently when you were listening to something or purposely to your tummy while they were in there. Your child knows cadence and tempo and timings . So play (pun intended) to that strength.
Like I said above , play them music when they are in the womb as it translates directly to their room. For example , Classical music , which I recommend for wee ones for two reasons. One you can always find classical music station on the radio, CD, Alexa Unit what ever, so if you have sleep trained them to a relaxing sonata they will instantly know to calm and that it is sleep time. And secondly classical music has scientifically been proven to stimulate brain waves and improve learning and language. So exposing your children all through their life starting with the day they are born ( or beforehand) to classical music can't be a bad thing. It will help with cognitive development.
Music, when they are older becomes such a great learning tool and form of fun and expression for everyone talking part. The repetition and rhythm and rhyme of songs and nursery rhymes is detrimental to your babies understanding of the world. You're singing , no matter what key its in is instantly recognisable to them and brings smiles and laughter. Coupled with your touch in going through the motions of the actions helps co ordination and motor skills in your wee ones. Think Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. Counting with Baa Baa Black Sheep. If you yourself are still learning the songs invest in musical books and toys. My wee one has wore the battery down on her Happy and You Know It book that plays as you read. And dances with her beat , that if you press its tummy sings a song.
When they are big enough and you are ready, please get yourself to a music class. The communal singing , dancing and interaction is a vital part of play. The exposure to sound and the physical touch of the instruments stimulates the senses. They will soon recognise tunes and start to participate, watching and learning from others what to do. Feeling the beat of the music and the repetition of the notes will become familiar and they will get excited when their jam comes on. Right now Wind the Bobbin Up is my wee ones, she used to love Row Row but tastes change ....
Music should be a large part of daily life too. On , in the back ground , be it your own tastes and radio stations or a cd of children songs on repeat. Or for me, Amazon playlists I can verbally request through our Alexa unit. My wee one recognises a good beat usually in the first four bar and starts bopping along or twerking her bum and swinging her arms. It is wonderful to see her face light up at a song she really loves, like baby shark or tellytubbies. A love and understanding of music is something that you don't teach as such it seems to be intrinsic in everyone. We listen and dance around the room to everything , Africa drumming and my teens choice of rappers these days. Nursery rhymes to top 40 hits. My wee one will get really in to some things and just listen to others forming her own tastes, separate from me. So I feel its important to introduce her to as many forms as I can.
Which takes me nicely to instruments. I wish I had learned one, my sister did and I think it is a wonderful skill to be able to hear, read and play music. But I won't force her to learn unless she expresses an interest. But I will give her all the tools for her to make that decision , starting with basic instruments and ways for her to make her own music. At class we clap , stamp and use our voices to form sounds and music . And now she is older both at class and at home she gets to play with the instruments. Bells, shakers, tambourine , piano, xylophone , whistle, drums. I have scoured 2nd hand shops and been given hand me downs from friends of all the above. Its wonderful to get the band together and get her involved with making her own sounds. When she hits that drum and inadvertently plays a beat , she is so proud of herself. Mind you instruments don't have to be plastic (wooden one are great) , expensive or even recognisable. A wooden spoon on an upturned saucepan, or bowl is just as good. Rice or beans in a container is a great shaker. My wee one loves the sprinkles jar for cupcakes. Its small enough for her hand and makes a great noise! Used paper towel rolls and finished up toilet rolls can be used as voice trumpets as you shout down them they change the sound. Once they are older, glasses of varying degrees of water inside make lovely different sounds when tapped or with a wet finger.
I have tried to incorporate music into all parts of her life from a very young age. Humming to her when she was upset to singing softly and gentle lullabies. Installing a familiar tune to help her relax and sleep. Getting on the floor to enact nursery rhymes and taking her to class to get her in to peer support groups so she can hear, watch and learn. Getting off the floor and onto the dance floor to actively get moving to the beat. Finding her things to play with so she can express herself. I have some sort of sound on through the day so her mind is stimulated. Music is a universal language that can sooth , engage and teach. We can get excited about it or use it to unwind. And it is an invaluable tool for us and our child to communicate with and through for life. I still listen to the albums my Dad played me when I was young. Music is what connects us all . And its never too early to start !