Is My Child Musical?
An established music school near me has been sending flyers home with school-aged children with an invitation to parents to have an instrumental teacher come and assess their child to find out if they have have a musical aptitude. The question “Is Your Child Musical” is ridiculous. Listen, I've never met a toddler who didn't like music—who didn't bounce their knees and clap and sing and smile when they heard music that appealed to them. Do you know a baby that hates to be sung to? I don't.
Studies show that we are all born with an innate sense of rhythm and melody. It helps us decipher the tones and inflections in language. So in effect, we are all born with music hard-wired into our brain. Whether we flex those muscles on a regular basis is more about the social culture we live in and less to do with ability. SO, YES! Your child is musical. And also on a side note, to all of you parents who say, "I'm tone deaf", or "I don't know where my child gets music from", I call baloney! We are all born musical.
People used to always ask me, “Do you think your daughter will play an instrument?" To me, that is like asking, "Do you think your child will learn to read?" Maybe the latter question was important 100 years ago, but ever since the public school system was set up, our society has said “Yes! All children will be taught to read. Reading is no longer for the privileged class and we consider it a basic skill that everyone should have access to, and certainly not just something that only gifted children can do. Many of us start the process of reading well before school—teaching our kids the alphabet and reading books to our children on a daily basis. And when a child struggles or falters in regards to reading, we rush in to prop them up with support, looking for ways to motivate them and dissecting their learning style. That's how much we value reading. So, if your family values music, if live music is a part of the fabric of your family, then your child will be much more likely to be musical. If you believe that music is an important part of your child’s upbringing, it will be so.
Of course, believing is just the beginning. The next job will be to find good teachers that gel with your child and also to understand how to support your child's musical journey. Learning an instrument takes time and patience on everybody's account—the parent, the child and the teacher and big breakthroughs often happen when everybody is about to throw in the towel. But just as we would never give up on a child who has reading roadblocks, why give up on a child who doesn't excel at playing an instrument right away? If we can agree on the premise that we are all musical, then why not work to find an "in" for your child?
Here then are some simple things you can do to support and nurture your child’s musical upbringing: sing with them, dance with them, take them to live music concerts, have hand percussion and instruments in the house, learn an instrument alongside them, and sign up for quality music programs that nurture their innate musical abilities.
Music is in all children and is a rich part of being human. Let’s not leave it just for the lucky few.
Alison is the director of Lovenotes School of Music , an early-childhood music school that believes that everyone is born musical. She is also a professional musician , a daydreamer and a proud mama of a three-year-old red-headed singing machine.
Read more about Alison.