YOU are your child's first and MOST important music teacher! Many mommies’ shriek in disbelief: they might say they can't “sing to save the band” or maybe they can't “keep a beat in a bucket.” In reality, even if this was true (and most likely it is NOT), it really doesn't matter. Children get their disposition and LOVE of making-music by seeing the important adults in their lives making music and having fun doing so!
"No intelligence or ability can unfold unless given the appropriate model environments" says Lili Levinowitz, Professor of Music Education, Rowan University and Director of Research, Music Together LLC.
This is why parents/caregivers are their child's first and most important music teacher. Children can learn music skills from a teacher, but they acquire their LOVE of making music from their parents.
Here are a few ways to easily be a great music role-model for your child:
• Sing and dance for your own enjoyment! Sing songs you love and find new songs to love and sing them too. I have just found Pandora, the easy and free online music-station-maker-program that plays songs similar to the ones you already love. Find music that makes you want to move and dance to it. Let your child see you having fun with music and remember little ones are not judgmental or care if it is "in tune" or "on the beat"!
• Be an enthusiastic music maker! When teaching family Music Together classes, I often notice adults coming to class tired; baby hasn't slept or maybe their toddler just had a fit on the way to class. Or it is even possible that the current song is not their favorite. I always encourage parents to take some big relaxing breathes and challenge themselves to have the most fun time in class for their little one (and for themselves, too). Music can really change a disposition like no other activity I can think of.
• Find different and creative ways to enjoy music with your child. There are many fun outdoor FREE venues to experience music as well as cool elevator songs to groove to (just kidding about that last idea).
Sharing the music you love with your child can be like sharing a precious heirloom out lasting any toy in the toy box! As an adult, I am realizing how I crave the Johnny Cash tunes my grandpa sang to me as a child (not so much in my teen years though). When you sing and dance with your little one (or with them near by), you are giving your child a gift: the disposition to be a music-maker and to have a lifelong love of music.
by Kathy Rowe, M.A. in Music Education
teacher and center director @ Music Together in Phoenix