Early Childhood Music Education

The Importance of The Proper Curriculum

Giving your child music lessons is one of the best investments you can make. Beyond the most obvious benefit of opening the door to a lifetime of music appreciation, studies have shown that music lessons increase a child’s IQ and enhance academic performance. Canadian study featured in Forbes concluded that after nine months of weekly training in piano or voice, young students’ IQs rose, on average, three points more than their untrained peers. In the words of a recent Los Angeles Times article: “Learning to make music (and not merely listening) changes the brain and boosts broad academic performance.” Other research shows that playing an instrument has a positive effect on learning math and foreign languages.

Some other often-overlooked benefits of music instruction are:

  • Enhanced Hand-Eye Coordination, dexterity and motor skills: playing the piano is a physical activity requiring muscle development and development of motor skills.
  • Improved Concentration and Discipline – learning to play the piano requires concentration, focus and discipline – abilities that equally important to academic achievement and success in life.
  • More Confidence and Self-Esteem
  • Improved School Performance
  • “Renaissance” Children – music lessons broaden a child’s intellectual curiosity and artistic accomplishments.

The MENC :National Association For Music Education has articulated the following position statement on a recommended music curriculum for young children. Piano Prep School embraces these goals and standards in teaching younger children piano fundamentals and the joy of making music.

Early Childhood Music Education (Position Statement)

A Music Curriculum for Young Children

A music curriculum for young children should include many opportunities to explore sound through singing, moving, listening, and playing instruments, as well as introductory experiences with verbalization and visualization of musical ideas. The music literature included in the curriculum should be of high quality and lasting value, including traditional children’s songs, folk songs, classical music, and music from a variety of cultures, styles, and time periods.

Beliefs about Young Children and Developmentally and Individually Appropriate Musical Experiences

  • All children have musical potential. Every child has the potential for successful, meaningful interactions with music. The development of this potential, through numerous encounters with a wide variety of music and abundant opportunities to participate regularly in developmentally appropriate music activities, is the right of every young child.
  • Children bring their own unique interest and abilities to the music learning environment. Each child will take away that bit of knowledge and skill that he or she is uniquely capable of understanding and developing. Children must be left, as much as possible, in control of their own learning. They should be provided with a rich environment that offers many possible routes for them to explore as they grow in awareness and curiosity about music.
  • Very young children are capable of developing critical thinking skills through musical ideas. Children use thinking skills when making musical judgments and choices.
  • Children come to early childhood music experiences from diverse backgrounds. Their home languages and cultures are to be valued and seen as attributes that enrich everyone in the learning environment.
  • Children should experience exemplary musical sounds, activities, and materials. Children’s learning time is valuable and should not be wasted on experiences with music or activities of trite or questionable quality.
  • Children should not be encumbered with the need to meet performance goals. Opportunities should be available for children to develop accurate singing, rhythmic responses to music, and performance skills on instruments. Each child’s attainment of a predetermined performance level, however, is neither essential nor appropriate.
  • Children’s play is their work. Children should have opportunities for individual musical play, such as in a “music corner,” as well as for group musical play, such as singing games. Children learn within a playful environment. Play provides a safe place to try on the roles of others, to fantasize, and to explore new ideas. Children’s play involves imitation and improvisation.
  • Children learn best in pleasant physical and social environments. Music learning contexts will be most effective when they include (1) play, (2) games, (3) conversations, (4) pictorial imagination, (5) stories, (6) shared reflections on life events and family activities, and (7) personal and group involvement in social tasks. Dominant use of drill-type activities and exercises and worksheet tasks will not provide the kind of active, manipulative, and creative musical environment essential to the development of young minds.
  • Diverse learning environments are needed to serve the developmental needs of many individual children. Children interact with musical materials in their own way based on their unique experiences and developmental stages. One child may display sophistication and confidence in creating songs in response to dolls. Another child, in the same setting, may move the dolls around without uttering a sound–but this “silent participator” leaves the area content in having shared the music play. The silent participator often is later heard playing in another area softly singing to a different set of dolls–demonstrating a delayed response.
  • Children need effective adult models. Parents and teachers who provide music in their child’s life are creating the most powerful route to the child’s successful involvement in the art.

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