PRESCHOOL MUSIC CLASSES

Preschool Music Lessons
Tania Cowling
South Florida Parenting

Anxious to stimulate their baby's brains, some moms play music for babies in the womb. Newborns are calmed by soothing lullabies sung by parents and recordings of the classics, and research has shown that exposure to music in the earliest years does improve children's brain power.Throughout early childhood, it is wise to introduce children to all styles of music: rock, jazz, opera, blues, folk and more.Subconsciously, they absorb musical qualities as they repeatedly hear great works.In the preschool years, there are many benefits of music education. Research shows that children who take music lessons develop rhythm, coordination and self-confidence. The experience of learning music also helps a child in mathematics.But not all children are ready for music training at the same time.

IS THE CHILD READY?
These are guidelines that music teachers use to evaluate whether a child is ready for lessons:
Does your child show an interest in learning to play an instrument? If a keyboard is available, do you find the child picking out familiar melodies or exhibiting pride in his own composition? Perhaps the child sings on pitch especially well, or truly enjoys listening to music. These are good reasons to start training.
Is your child's attention span long enough for 10-15 minutes of instruction or practice?
Does the child exhibit good coordination of his small muscles and have some finger dexterity? Can he tell right from left, at least most of the time?
Can your child recognize the numbers 1-5 and understand the correlation between these numbers and the finger numbers of his hand?
Can your child comprehend the alphabet letters A-G? Most traditional theory lessons require the ability to write and read the alphabet from A to G.
Will your child take instruction from a stranger? Choosing a teacher experienced in working with young children is critical. Remember, preschoolers need patience and understanding, and they learn differently than older children.
Does your child like to perform? Recitals in front of strangers can be scary for young children. If the teacher schedules one, make sure it is nonthreatening and fun for the child.

IS THE PARENT READY?
Are you willing to provide a well-tuned piano, electric keyboard, violin, or other instrument for your child to practice on?
Can you provide at least 15 minutes daily to help your child practice? A young child needs guidance to make learning music fun.
Are you willing to bring your child to weekly lessons?
Are you willing to keep track of books, papers and tools needed for successful music lessons? Private or group instruction? Parents should look for the class that best suits their child's needs and wants. The shy child might lean toward a private teacher, whereas outgoing children like groups to interact with.One method, Suzuki (www.suzuki-music.com), uses both private and group settings. Suzuki emphasizes learning music aurally. It has been called the "mother tongue" approach, as it teaches children to play the same way they have learned to speak, through listening and repetition. Formal music theory comes later. Suzuki programs include instruction in piano, violin, viola, cello, harp or flute.Kindermusik (www.kindermusik.com) provides parent/child classes in music and movement for newborns to age 7. This approach nurtures cognitive, physical, social, emotional and language skills and prepares a child for more formal lessons in the future.When a child is introduced to various forms of music at an early age it helps to broaden their minds and introduce them to the world of sound. What a wonderful gift to give a child!

Tania Cowling is an author, former early childhood teacher and mother. She lives in Plantation.

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