A blog on piano teaching, practicing, performance and competition

The benefits of starting music lessons early, I mean, when they are 2!! August 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Melody Ouyang @ 6:35 pm

Your child doesn’t have to learn how to read before they take music lessons.

One may ask, Can children from infancy through kindergarten really grasp the concept of music theory and principles?

Why expose a child to music at such an early age when there’s so much time?

If you’ve ever been around young children, you’ve probably noticed how they tend to try to skip rather than walk, dance rather than stroll, or sing when they’re trying to drown out your instructions.  The best argument for early childhood music education lies in the fact that toddler/preschoolers/kindergartners, for the most part, are naturally receptive to the nuances of pitch and rhythm. Research has shown that very young children can develop an awareness of pitch and musical concepts.  If left untapped–this natural feeling for music may never be developed.

As early as 1962, Dr. Lee Salk demonstrated that the fetus is aware of the mother’s heartbeat.  Lullabies and tunes crooned to infants have been a centuries-old method of soothing babies to sleep.  Then this carries over to soothe younger babies and toddlers, and that they use the power of inner music whenever they wish to comfort themselves.  In addition, children at this age are also less conscious of our “standard judgment” of “proper performance,” fine and gross motor skills can be improved through improvisational dancing, experiential singing, and playing the instruments.  Vocal and speech development can also improve through singing.  Furthermore, we all understand that it is earlier for infants/toddlers/preschoolers to learn a second language then children who have started elementary school.  Learning music concepts and reading music is very similar to learning another language, therefore it is best to have them experience music when they are at an age that is the most receptive.

The most important benefit, is the proven positive effect music has on brain development.  This has been thoroughly researched and documented and is most crucial during the first 6 years, when the most important brain development takes place.  According to Nancy Mayer, an early childhood brain development specialist, claims that based on numerous researches musical training is linked to the development of higher brain functions.  That the early years of life are crucial to the development of vital connections within brain tissues which leads to later success in learning.  A recent study of 78 preschoolers founded that learning to play the piano enhances the abstract-reasoning skills needed for learning math and science.  Gordon Shaw, Ph.D., professor of physics at the University of California at Irvine has further states that “music lessons at a young age may help train a child’s brain for certain higher cognitive functions later.”

Imagine…if parents would expose their children to classical music at a young age, what the possibilities would be for these children at an older age!  No one is guaranteeing that they’ll all become performers, but the youngsters who have had this exposure have an advantage in academic abilities, self-esteen, and probably improved attitudes in general.  Most importantly, your child will be able to understand and enjoy music for a lifetime!

So now we have learned the benefits of starting music lessons early, what kind of program should you be looking for?  We all know that there’s no way to sit a 2-year-old down to start them on music theory!!  Please read my article on “Things you want to look for in preschool/toddler/kindergarten music classes” and “The main differences between Harmony Road Program’s “Toddler Tunes” and “Music in Me” versus other toddler/preschool music programs.”  Hopefully these articles would help answer your questions.


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