If you watch a baby or a toddler moving spontaneously to a piece of music, or a young child singing along to a song creating their own actions and dance steps as they go, you will quickly be reminded that musical expression is something that is common to everyone.
Music plays a significant role in all cultures of the world.
Our ability to hear and respond to music starts before birth, and, as seen in Alzheimer’s patients who can still sing, it goes to the core of who we are, and beyond the verbal.
Music provides a means for children to explore and express their own individuality, imagination, creativity and emotional world.
Music also helps children to develop a wide range of other skills such as listening, concentration, coordination and memory.
It is not hard or expensive to provide young children with opportunities to engage with and enjoy music. Young children love to create music from objects they find at home.
Every parent will testify to the fascination of the pot cupboard.
You can help children build their musicality by creating, copying and sharing simple patterns of sound with them as they explore their environment. Mimic children’s early vocal expressions creating simple songs and chants as part of your regular communication. Encourage children to move freely in response to music and to enjoy its sounds and patterns.
When possible, give them opportunities to see and hear live music being composed.
Participating in group music activities enables children to experience the value and pleasure of shared music making.
It also helps them to learn how to work cooperatively with others.
Older children can further explore music with the guidance of a registered music teacher and through music groups available in schools and the wider community.
Early engagement with music is easy to establish and opens the doors to a lifetime of musical pleasure and appreciation.
Dr Judith Donaldson is Programme Coordinator at the Massey Institute of Education Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) programme.