Your children seem to be anywhere and everywhere nowadays, as they balance school, friends, family and hobbies. How does music fit into their lives? Whether it’s from watching a favorite TV show, listening to tunes in the car, or just having their parents sing to them, kids are exposed to song and melody all throughout their childhood. In terms of early development, music appreciation and education boosts perceptual skills, language and literary abilities, mathematical reasoning, and even motor coordination.

For these reasons, expectant mothers try to get a head start. Kids tend to prefer types of music they heard in the womb—this also spurs on the building of neural bridges in the brain. But, doctors and neuro specialists emphasize that kids need to actually learn about music and/or play an instrument to see real positive, long-term impact.

Music education matters, which is why we’re spotlighting Music in Our Schools Month. Arts and music are consistently reported as bolstering graduation rates, test scores and socialization. The National Association for Music Education is just one of several organizations fighting to preserve these programs in grade schools all across the U.S.

If you’re looking for ways to energize your children to take up music, here’s a quick guide to when and how to get started:

  • Ages 2-5: Expose your kid to all genres of music to get a feel of what they enjoy. Watch shows and movies with sing-a-longs (with visible lyrics, even better!). When they’re old enough to articulate their thoughts, have them talk about their favorite songs and let them take the lead on what to play on car rides.
  • Ages 5 & 6: This is the age children can start paying attention and focusing on learning instruments, though it’s important not to push them too hard and turn them off it for good. At Age 6, their hands can handle smaller string instruments, keyboards and the all-time classic: the recorder!
  • Age 10: After exploring with different instruments, by approximately fifth grade, young students can start developing actual skills and preferences, and graduate to larger instruments. This is a popular time to start band, orchestra or choir at school—and many schools require years of music as part of their curriculum.
  • Age 13: Sometime right around the start of the teenage years is great time to start exploring actual music theory, like writing short songs and sight reading. At this point, depending on how dedicated your child is to his instrument of choice, it’s also appropriate to seek out a music teacher or tutor.

For ways to support the arts here in Michigan, visit the Michigan Music Education Association, where you can find student events, professional development, and advocacy programs.

Photo Credit: Salvation Army USA West

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