In our current digital era, where the world seems as though it's moving at an overwhelmingly fast pace, it's difficult to understand what the long term effects are going to be on the younger generation. If you have children, you've probably hear the term “digital native”, which refers to individuals who were born after the advent of the Internet. The challenge of raising well adjusted children in the 21st century is going to be largely reliant on our ability to instill values of patience and discipline; the digital era offers infinite pleasurable distractions in exchange for the price of an internet connection. One failsafe way to help your child develop patience and discipline is by inspiring a love of music in them and encouraging them to pursue a musical instrument.
The first step to encouraging your child to love music is simply to play music for them. Children do not have a bias and are unaffected by the media, so try out a wide variety of songs from classical to pop to folk and see what they respond to. Typically, young children respond well to songs with simple melodies and lots of repetition, songs from Sesame Street and Old MacDonald certainly have a role to play, but bubble gum pop from the 1950's – Mr Sandman is a good example – are simple enough that children often go nuts for it.
Once your child is up and toddling around, dancing is another great way to encourage music. If you've ever been to a concert with a lot of children present, you'll notice that they're completely uninhibited and really go for it if the song's got a good rhythm – adults could learn a thing or two from this.
As you kids start to sing or mess around on a Fisher Price xylophone or hand drums, you can blow their minds by recording voice memos on your phone and then playing it back to them. As they begin to recognize their own voices, they'll start to understand that you can create something of lasting value with music, and this will be an extremely valuable lesson in motivating them to study music.
As they start to get older, you can consider signing them up for professional music lessons; it's probably best not to put too much pressure on them, but if you do get your kids to love music and they can't get enough of it, send them to the pros to develop those skills! Music class in school is one thing, but developing in a more fun and casual setting where you can pursue independent goals has its advantages.
Studies show that learning an instrument can increase social abilities and confidence. It also builds brainpower and memory, taking advantage of the malleable brain plasticity of young folks. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, music gives young people a form of personal and artistic expression. In our current culture, where people take in so much content without producing any themselves, it's easy to fall into the trap of passive lethargy. If you take the trouble to inspire your kids to pick up music or any other form of artistic expression, you'll be helping the younger generation develop the necessary tools to thrive.
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