Mindful Monday: Musical Madness!

Today in music. As I woke, my 2 year old and I sang our “Good Morning!” song. As she conveniently ignored my directions to get ready, I sang them to her. She listened. On our way to church, we sang to the CD in the car. I sang at church, she sang in her kid’s program. We sang in the car on the way back home. My 3 month old started crying. I sang “Baby Beluga”. He smiled. We sang and danced through an episode of Barney befoer naps, and then repeated the songs as we layed down for naps. We sang our “Clean Up!” song after our art project. We sang in the bathtub, and as I layed my 2 year old down tonight, we sang our good night songs. I danced with my 3 year old in the kitchen while dinner was cooking.

You get the idea. Music is EVERYWHERE! And if you have a child older than 0, it’s in every part of your day, or it should be! Because music is such a routine part of most people’s life, most often “just there” in the background, we often don’t give music the credit it’s worth. Studies show that from the very first heartbeat in a mother’s womb to one’s last breath, music has powerful effects on every human being. Even those who can’t hear!

Can you tell I’m a musician? I am. Ask anyone that knows me … I can’t sing worth a penny, and I haven’t the rhythm of … well, anything that has rhythm. But let me tell you what. I SING. and I DANCE. And I LOVE it. And so does my toddler. And so does my infant. Why?

Reason #1:
Let me ask you something. Can you sing a children’s song all the way through, with or without a child present, and be grumpy at the end of it? I hope not! Music is a natural mood booster … it brings LIFE and ENERGY and EMOTION to just about any situation. Even pediatricians sing silly songs during visits because it makes everyone HAPPY!

Reason #2:
Music is a part of what is called a “Rich Sensory Environment”- one that has a variety of exposures to different sounds, scents, textures, etc… and this is nothing but positive for our little ones. Though my musical talent appears to be equal of that of a dying bird, I sing and dance to my heart’s content simply because I know it’s ONE thing I know I’m doing right during the day.

Reason #3:
It’s simply entertaining. To press play on a CD and sit back and watch as my daughter twirls in circles, a look of complete and innocent joy on her face … and to hear my infant cooing along with the sweetest grin of complete enjoyment = priceless. Listening to my daughter sing to her babies the songs she once let me sing to her as we rocked in our gliding chair… heart melting. Someone once said that music is the simplest and most universal form of communication.

Reason #4:
With that being said, it’s another method of exposing them to language, rhythm and rhyme – all of which are essential to reading. When you feel like you’ve yelled “______, I said “NO!” ” for the hundreth time, pop in a kid’s CD or even youtube, and starting singing and dancing. I guarantee there will be more words than “NO!”

Reason #5:
Mathematics matters. Studies show that the vast majority of kids who are involved in any form of music in middle school and beyond do significantly better in math and reading. Why is this? When you learn to play and read music, you teach your brain to break a whole unit (a song/measure/beat,etc) and break it down into smaller parts in order for your body and brain to react quickly and efficiently. The more this skill is practiced (um, like, every day in band or choir class versus “doing homework” that they forget to do in math) the more it is imbedded in their brains, and the better they become at it. It makes tasks like writing a geometry proof, solving an algebraic equation or breaking a large unknown word down into smaller parts an easy task instead of a stumbling block.

Do you have to play Mozart every day? Learn music theory for yourself today, so you can teach it tomorrow? Drag out your old clarinet and pay for music lessons?

Absolutely not! Simply … be aware. Be purposeful. Make a point to integrate music into one part of your week, then build up to one part of each day, then one part of each part of your day and before you know it, you’ll see your neighbors wearing earplugs because you sing so loudly all the time. And so does your preschooler. And your infant.

After you start singing … add instruments! Even if it’s a stick from your front yard … I promise … your preschooler WILL find a way to use it as an instrument! Clap to the beat, staple beans inside 2 paper plates and shake shake shake … then add a little wiggle and wallah! You’re dancing and movin’ and shakin’ and singin’ .. and you probably have a HUGE smile on your face, or at least your wee one will!

There are so many reasons why music is important in the life of your child … but the most important one is probably the smile on your child’s face! Happy Singing!

http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/learning/toddler_music.html

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