Children and Music

Children and music have a close association with one another. Throughout the ages, music has been effectively utilised to instill learning, be it emotional, religious, social and cognitive. Today the stress on music in preschools is in reaction to its contribution to the child's life as a whole. Recent trends in education have emphasised the importance of music in enhancing and unifying the child's many activities in and out of school. An essential part of music is that it sharpens the gray cells in the brain. It also has a measure of splendour and fun too. The wisdom of music inspires children greatly. The true value of good music is in reaching out to the soul and bringing about changes in the lives of children. Certainly it adds on an extra edge to the child's integrated development. Music is indeed a magic wand fulfilling several functions towards flowering of personality.


Children and Music

How Children Respond to Music

Music is an important part of the Indian cultural heritage. Music is a combination of elements such as sound, rhythm and movement. Every human being, especially young children, are endowed with the ability to respond to a musical stimulus. It is an integral part of every child. They learn, love and appreciate music easily and effectively. The world is full of sounds to the listening child. 

The rain, parking of the car, chirping of the birds, sounds in the kitchen, dripping of water from a pipe, ticking of the clock and telephone rings are all sources of music to the child.

Children respond to music enthusiastically and spontaneously without any inhibition. A crying child stops crying on hearing the sound of music. An aggressive child is pacified when a jubilant rhythmic music is started. The earliest memory of most people is the songs they heard from their mother or in school. These songs play a large part in making them happy individuals with love, respect and consideration for others. The songs or rhymes are very important with regard to the ideas they convey to young minds. These thoughts inculcated while young carry their impressions throughout their lives.

How to introduce children to music?
  • Infancy music
  • Six to Twelve Months
  • Second Year
  • Three to Five years

How to introduce children to music?

Infancy

All children enjoy music since birth. During infancy, the child just hears the sound of the music sung or played. Singing easily dovetails with sleep time as it helps to soothe and quieten the child. Songs at this stage must be sung using a normal tempo. Since time immemorial, mothers have been introducing cradle or lullaby songs from the first month onwards. Simple rhythms like those below make the babies sleep easily.

1. Ra re  Ra re Ra re Ra re Ra re 
    My darling Ra re Ra re Ra re
    My sweety Ra re Ra re Ra re
    My lovely Ra re Ra re Ra re
    My golden babe re Ra re Ra re
    My sunny babe Ra re Ra re 

2. Lali Suba Lali
    Lali Suba Lali
    Lali Lali Lali
    Lali Suba Lali

The above verses are very soft and simple but a melodious expression of mother's love and concern to help her child relax and sleep.

Six to Twelve Months

By the end of six months, the baby can combine certain vocal and constant sounds such as ba-ba, ma-ma, da-da or bo-bo. Babbling reaches its peak by the eighth or ninth month and then gradually paves way for regular speech. By the end of the twelfth month, your baby can also be trained to use gestures for action songs. For example,

Ball ball ball
The ball is rolling, the ball is rolling
Roll, roll, roll
The ball is jumping, the ball is jumping
Jump, jump, jump
The ball is hopping, the ball is hopping
Hop, hop, hop

When this song is sung, the child might show rolling and jumping movements and sing "ball, ball".

Second Year

During the second year of life, the child learns to speak words and gradually associates meanings with words. Simple and meaningful verses can be used to assist your baby in building a vocabulary of usable words. For example,

Brush, brush, brush your teeth
Brush it every day
Comb, comb, comb your hair
Comb it every day
Wash, wash, wash your hands
Wash them every day
Eat, eat, eat your food
Eat it every day

If the above rhyme is sung, the child might sing along showing actions. During babyhood, babies get hooked to such rhymes and learn pretty easily. Music time can be both a spontaneous and organized event. The closeness the child feels with the parent is an important factor. During this stage, parents have to prepare, select and make a list of a wide variety of songs and musical plays in order to choose those that are most appropriate on a given day. For example, on Krishna Jayanthi day, the song to be sung may be as under

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Gokul Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Nanda Gopala Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Yasodha Nandana Hare Hare

Children enjoy simple rhythms, melody and movements. They love learning new songs too. Variety is important for all children. It is ideal if the parents keep singing time interesting with a combination of new and known songs. Sing songs at a lively tempo using the child's choice of songs whenever he comes up with one.

Three to Five years

During early childhood (3 to 5 years), singing can be encouraged out of doors during swinging on the swing, rocking on wooden animals or playing with the sand. Guidance such as

Bits of paper Bits of paper
Lying on the ground
Make the place untidy
Pick them up, pick them fast and
Put them in the dustbin.

usually is quite effective with young children. Use music indoors, outdoors, as guidance, as an expression of joy, to relieve tension and to foster concept development. Sing songs in a phased manner for several days until the child catches it, rather than tiring him by singing all in one day. New songs can be located by browsing rhyme or song books, listening to records and recalling songs you enjoyed as a child.

Children at this stage are delighted to sing both subtle and wildly imaginative songs. Songs on
  • Vehicles or transport
  • Household pets
  • Animals
  • Family members
  • Birds
  • Food
  • Flowers
  • Colours
  • Friends
  • Parts of the body
  • Numbers

delight the children and are appropriate to them. One can find a real treasure of songs or rhymes on the above themes in books. There are music albums exclusively for children in the market. Some of the popular ones are:

Hindi Nursery Rhymes by Preeti Sagar (English rhymes are available as well)
  • Sandra Boyton albums
  • Elmo Mewling - the ABC song
  • Elizabeth Mitchell's easy learning music
  • Mary Rice Hopkin's music

Careful choice of songs are essential as the words or lyrics should be clear, singable and the beat relaxing and enjoyable. Children become hooked if the music is good. Now a days, children are crazy about drums and upbeat music. 

As parents, you can sing simple, concept oriented songs or rhymes for the children and make singing a joy forever!