Parenting: The Importance of Music

Here’s a great story that appeared on WPVI about the importance of music. in your child’s development.

May 11, 2011 (WPVI) — Music is crucially important to your children’s growth and happiness at every age.

Experts say it helps their brains develop for short and long-term memory, playing an instrument, dexterity of their hands, math skills (because of the repetition in music), social skills (because of the tolerance and patience learning an instrument requires), and sheer enjoyment.

So you should start playing songs on the radio, and exposing them to musical instruments early and often. It doesn’t matter if you can’t sing or play an instrument. A newborn, toddler or young child doesn’t know or care. And the quality of the music is Unimportant at this stage. And the more variety, the better for maximum brain cell development.

So I play a mixture of folk songs, children’s songs, ethnic drum beats, and classical music on CDs every morning while I’m feeding my 1-year-old twins and getting their big brother off to school. Later when we’re settled into the twins’ playroom, I do 20 minutes of music every morning…either strumming an old guitar (I don’t know what notes to play, so I just strum away), or beating a drum and shaking bells that Cecily gave us for a baby gift.

My twins adore the music, as bad as it is (off key and with no real beat!) But I can see how they stop playing and turn to smile at me when I sing “Twinkle, twinkle little star” or “ABCDEFG-the alphabet song.” And it’s adorable to watch them rock in place or stand and bob around to the beat. I also let them sit on my lap and bang on the piano keys together. I took 3 years of piano in college. But I haven’t played in years. So we’re not playing a real song. But we do finger exercises and I let them add their little hands to the musical cacophony.

My 11-year-old also practices his recorder instrument for them, which Hunter and Zeke adore. Jake sits on the floor next to them and lets them crawl all over him while he’s playing for 10 or 15 minutes a day. And of course I turn on the musical mobile at night when they’re falling asleep. So there’s no part of the their day when there’s not music.

It might not sound like such a big deal, but by the end of a week, my little twins have heard at least 3 ½ hours of “live” music (mommy or their brother singing/performing), and 4-7 hours of recorded music. That’s quite a dose of music.
When they’re older, we’ll try music lessons and lots of free and paid concerts at church, in our local park, or at concert venues.

In his book, BRAIN RULES FOR BABY: HOW TO RAISE A SMART, HAPPY BABY, John Medina encourages parents to make music a huge priority. Medina writes, “The human brain can only hold about seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds! Which means, your brain can only handle a 7-digit phone number. If you want to extend the 30 seconds to a few minutes or even an hour or two, you will need to consistently re-expose yourself to the information. Memories are so volatile that you have to repeat to remember. Improve your memory by elaborately encoding it during its initial moments.”

Here is a list of some of the silly songs I sing/play to my baby sons every day. Try singing to your baby or toddler daily for a week. It’s not as easy as you think but it’s crucial! And it’s fun too.


1. Old McDonald
2. Edelweiss
3. I’ve been working on the Railroad
4. Happy Birthday song
5. You are my Sunshine
6. How much is that Puppy in the Window?
7. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
8. ABC song
9. I Love You (Barney song)
10. Holiday songs (Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail, Christmas Carols, etc.)

Have some musical fun!

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