If you are like me, you often wonder what the best gift is for your children. I want to give them what they want, but it also needs to be practical. And, if it could be educational, that would be an added bonus.
Personally, I am growing weary of all the commercial stuff that they play with for a few minutes and then set down. Have you ever noticed that when kids are really young, they are often more entranced with the box your gift comes in rather than the toy itself? It’s because they are tapping into their imagination. Children are full of imagination. If they are playing with the box more than the toy, it’s probably because they can and want to create.
They can also do this with music.
The Gift of Music
Music can be a lifelong gift. For instance, if they learn how to play piano, they can play now as they learn and also as an adult to unwind from the daily stresses. The same can’t be said about a toy truck.
Most kids already have an appreciation for music long before we encourage it. I agree with William Stafford who once said, “Kids: They dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music.”
Before my son could walk or talk, he paid attention to certain commercials when the TV was on. I soon realized it was the music of particular commercials that turned his little head and captivated him. This was true for both of my children, so I know Mr. Stafford is spot on with his assessment.
While it appears that children have a knack for introducing themselves to music, I believe that we have the responsibility to officially introduce them to it, if we want them to learn.
I have done some research on how to introduce my children to music, because I see the value in it for various reasons, such as:
- Improves concentration
- Instills discipline and structure
- Increases learning skills
- Lifelong enjoyment
- Stress reliever
Any one of the reasons listed above is enough for me to want to expose my children to music, and encourage them to learn a skill within it.
One way to introduce them to the joys of music is to simply listen to it often. Turn the TV off and put in a CD they would enjoy. This is a great time to do some arts and crafts, something fun that they can relate music to, rather than homework or chores.
You can also dance when you put some fun music on. Just last night my son and I danced together, and he loved it. He started singing while we were dancing, and it all stemmed from turning the music on and taking a break from cleaning up after dinner.
Keeping the Interest Alive
If you want to keep this gift alive, there are some tricks that I believe can work. First, find out what instruments they are drawn to, such as piano, flute, or guitar. If they are preschool age, buy them a toy instrument of whatever is drawing their interest.
Next, try to find a spot in the house that can be a dedicated ‘music room.’ Decorate it in their favorite musical items. For example, if they really like a certain musician, get some posters.
Also, let them play the music they like when practicing. It will help to hold their interest much longer, rather than a song they have no desire to play again.
I recently read something from Mrs. Rufina Gorin, Musical Director of the Gorin School of Music, which I completely agree with. She stated, “Any study requires focus, discipline, and consistent practice, and if a child does not possess these qualities and is not willing to develop them on their own, the result should not be ‘to drop the study’ but to help the child to develop them. These are qualities that will lead to success not just in music but in many other realms of life.”
Choosing the Instrument
If your child is older, then let them choose their own. You could lightly encourage them, but if it’s chosen for them it just might backfire.
However, if the children are young, bring instruments into the house. I am thinking of doing this now, as my kids are still too young to make that choice. So, I am leaning towards a piano, which is something the entire family can use.
I am hoping that as I learn to read piano music and play, they will pick up on it as well. At the very least, it will introduce them to music, as well as an instrument.
The piano is a wonderful instrument for the entire family for the following reasons:
- It’s an instrument that can be shared with others
- It provides a source for relaxation
- The entire family can join in with singing along for parties
- Two people can play at the same time
- Great introduction to other instruments
Piano happens to be my favorite, so this is an easy choice for me. If my children appreciate it and want to take it up, it’s already there. If they choose something else later on, I will also encourage that.
If you are unsure, just pay attention to what your kids are drawn to and talk to them about it.
I believe that music is very important to a child’s development. So, I hope I have given you some ideas on how to best introduce your child to a wonderful, lifelong gift.
Photo by LauraReaux