Updated: May 7, 2021
A question that many parents ask is: how do I encourage my child’s musical abilities? I would love to say that there is a magic trick that never fails when it comes to music education, but the truth is children learn in various ways therefore there is no “recipe” for musical magic. However, there is one really powerful tool for musical learning that we are all born with: the voice. Often overlooked, the voice is seen by many music educators and music philosophers (such as Kodaly and Orff) as the first and most natural instrument everyone should learn.
Although it might sound scary, singing can and should be as natural as learning how to speak our mother tongue. If we immerse children in a musical environment and lead by example by engaging with that music while signing and playing along, the little ones will feel safe enough to try it and the more they do it, the better they get!
Children learn how to speak their first language because they are exposed to it from birth. They learn a second language because they are exposed to it enough to make sense of sounds and words and how to repeat them and add them to a certain context. The same is true for musical learning. By singing to your children you are exposing them to musical sounds, helping them create connections between those musical sounds they hear so they later on have the ability to create their own.
A simple way of doing that is by incorporating simple lullabies to your daily bedtime routine or even scheduling a family music time at home a few times a week. Lullabies not only help with children’s singing abilities, but they are also a great opportunity for relaxation and bonding. When children are a little older, having a specific time of the week dedicated to simply sitting together and singing your favourite songs is a great way to keep nurturing children’s love for music while encouraging some informal “practice”. When children are older (12months and older) you can even use some non-pitched percussion instruments and create a little band for your family jam session. But more than anything: sing!