Developing a Musical Child
“pskovmusic.ru has a power of forming the character, and should therefore be introduced into the education of the young.” ~Socrates Parents who put their children to musical learning at a young age must have known that they are putting in a very good investment. All the more enlightened are parents who enroll their young in MUSIC and MOVEMENT classes, where a musical child is developed before a child musician is made.
In a musical environment where foundational musical experiences involving the whole child – mind, body and spirit – form the basis of the developmental process, a solid musical foundation is laid that ensures much more sustainable musical development for the child in years to come. Such musical foundation includes developing a true passion and motivation for this art, musical discernment, auditory acuity, pitch and rhythmic competence, motor coordination, and expressiveness.
As an area of learning, music is a challenging topic that requires perseverance and inspirations. Many children had ‘fallen out’ with their musical pursuit within a short time because they were ‘jump-started’ in their musical development, going into learning to play an instrument before any of the above musical skills were in place. It is evident in children who were fortunate enough to be nurtured musically before being put to the rigors of formal music instructions, which they are much more likely to thrive and succeed in playing the instrument well.
The type of pre-instrumental music instructions that nurtures holistically a musical child should be started as early as infancy, but taken to a higher plane at 4 – 6 years of age. These are often weekly group sessions that engage children in a fun and developmentally appropriate manner. The following areas of development must be in place:
• Vocal development – the voice is the most important musical instrument that every child possesses. A musical child ought to be able to sing in pitch.
• Listening development – the human ear is able to process information and discriminate between sound sources and discern qualities of sounds. It also governs attention and focus. A musical child will have a high command of this important sensory faculty.
• Movement development – dexterity, and coordination are motor skills required to play instruments well. Children who have danced and moved and experienced use of their body in a variety of ways will be able to transfer the same skills onto instrumental playing with ease. Music, when played expressively on an instrument, needs to be supported by an equally expressive body movement. A musical child will be relaxed and uninhibited in expressing his music through the body.
• Simple Instrumental Play that promotes eye-hand coordination and pitch association – the skill of reading music and playing at the same time is a challenge faced by many musicians. A young child can be prepared for this by working with simple melodic instruments like xylophones or glockenspiels.