Music Appreciation: A universal language for all ages
Children are natural musicians, and exposure to music during the
early years enhances the learning process by promoting language
development, creativity, coordination, and social interaction.
Caregivers can play an important role in incorporating music and
movement into a child’s life.
It isn’t necessary to play an instrument well or sing in tune to
help young children appreciate musical sounds, and they should not be
encumbered with the need to meet performance goals. In fact, music
play (whether recorded or live) can be an enjoyable, developmentally
appropriate activity regardless of musical aptitude.
Music for Infants and Toddlers
I can listen to music
Music can contribute to a soothing environment for infants and
toddlers and they soon begin to sort out musical sounds from other
sounds. Caregivers can nurture a disposition for music in very young
children and toddlers by chanting to them; imitating the sounds they
make; rocking, patting, and moving along to the beat. Respectful
planning is sensitive to children’s interests and balances active and
quiet music and movement times.
Music and Movement
Music makes me want to move my body
Older preschool children can understand movement as a form of
nonverbal communication as they begin to tell stories and express
their feelings through body movements. They learn to imitate patterns
of sound and rhythm and become aware of music in nature, for example
whistling wind, chirping birds and crickets.
Once children start to use their voices to sing, it becomes
important for them to listen carefully. At this stage, children
enjoy songs that ask them to move and swing around, jump, twist,
and clap their hands. Playing "follow-the-leader" allows
them to mimic and learn the different ways their bodies can keep
time with a song, and use of simple props will help children
integrate music with movement -- toys and teddy bears can
Children respond favorably to music that is familiar. Playing a
recorded song several times as background music can boost familiarity
and build vocabulary as the lyrics are learned. Inventing new verses
for familiar songs and spontaneous singing as they play can help
children understand that music is a form of creative expression.
I can create pleasant sounds
Musical instruments fascinate young children. Infants should be
encouraged to make their own music by experimenting with rattles and
bells. Drums, xylophones, and shakers can be enjoyed as children
grow older and develop better motor skills. Instruments can also be
created by using blocks, spoons, pots and pans, empty margarine tubs,
and coffee cans.
It’s important to expose children to diverse types and styles of
music. Expanding children’s horizons by offering a variety of music
from other lands and ethnic groups is one useful way of accomplishing
the goals of a multicultural education.
If given the opportunity, young children quickly realize that music
communicates a variety of things, including feelings and ideas. They
should feel free to explore and enjoy a wide variety of musical sounds
and the body movements that music evokes. Whether singing and dancing
to an old Beatles record, or playing a makeshift drum set, early
exposure to music plays a fundamental role in a child’s development.
Bredekamp, S. and Rosegrant, T., Eds. 1995. Reaching Potentials:
Transforming Early Childhood Curriculum and Assessment, Vol. 2.
Washington, DC: NAEYC. #227/$8
Jalongo, M.R. 1996. Using Recorded Music with Youg Children: A
Guide for Nonmusicians. Young Children, 51 (5):6-11
McDonald, D.T. 1979. Music In Our Lives: The Early Years.
Washington, DC NAEYC. #107/$4