Probably the most transformative and defining moment of my life was the first time my mother sat down with me at the piano we had at home. I was a tiny infant. I certainly didn’t know it at the time. The piano and music would become the designer of how I evolved to who I am today. It is still defining me, my work and my contribution to society. I cannot recall that moment exactly, I was most likely sitting on her lap. I probably put my little hands all over the keys and was delighted that so much sound came from my connecting with those black and white ivory keys. My mother sat down with me every day of my very young years- every single day -until I was old enough to go to a teacher at the age of 3. It was that gift of music, access to it, the creation and study of it, and the ultimate love of it that is the most incredible gift that my mother could have given me. What a powerful gift! My mother always said, “even when you are old, you can have music”. How did she know, I remember wondering.
Music IS the ultimate gift you can give a child. The earlier you can provide access to music learning, the better. I won’t go into all the studies that tell us how incredible exposure to music and music literacy is for the development of the brain. You can google that. What I can and will share here are all the positive ‘side effects’ that come with bringing music into a child’s life. My 30+ years at the Colorado Springs Conservatory, my lifetime prior to that and the work that I am doing now are testament to my will and commitment to bring the gift of music to every child. Hope I can inspire you to do the same. I would also recommend sharing the musical time with your child. The bonding will also last a lifetime.
We have all been witness to the delightful effects that a child experiences simply by listening to music. The emotions evoked in any piece of music, pop, classical, jazz, sing songy can all be seen on the face of a child. Just bringing music to life around you is wonderful.
And how they can dance when they hear that music. Encouraging dance while listening – not just for the baby, but for you and your entire family. The resulting joy, laughter and connection is life strengthening.
Study: The sooner a child can start to study and understand the literacy of music, the better. (I would say that is as early at 4-6 months- See PICCOLO classes at the Colorado Springs Conservatory) Study builds the mind in a million different ways even as important, a child who studies music, practices and writes music is building discipline, self reliance, accountability, a sense of individual creativity, literacy and is learning how to be alone with him or herself.
Expression: Music defines who we are as humans. When a child has this beautiful ‘tool’ of expression at their disposal, they are more likely to be able to evolve as strong and unique individuals defined by themselves and NOT society. ( This is especially important as they grow older and the impact of social media and peer pressure becomes such a big part of their lives)
Confidence: What more powerful gift can come out of this process of musical exploration than confidence. A trait that will serve them well throughout life. There is nothing more brilliant than being witness to a child having accomplished learning, practicing and performing a difficult piece of music. One such accomplishment leads to another and fear of a difficult task becomes something they understand and walk up to and through- forever.
The act of reading music and understanding that language assists their development in all things literacy, math, awareness, comprehension…..and on and on.
Whether a child takes to piano, flute, violin, or drums there is a general sense of physical ease that a child learns as they practice their instruments.
The word of our times, no doubt. The social emotional impact that music has on a child, particularly if they have the opportunity to truly ‘own’ the skill, the better. A child who has the ability to create music during times that are stressful and happy is a child who can understand how to walk through life.
Working together and making music as we go is truly one of the most inspiring acts that can come out of access to music. What a skill to take with you through life- the ability to work with others. To truly learn how to listen, share, respect, and admire- powerful effects and long lasting effects.
There is a quote that has become a bit of a mantra in my life and so many others that have shared this journey with me.
“Music is one of the most powerful forces of mankind and he who renders it accessible to as many people as possible is a benefactor to humanity.” Kodaly
Music is humanity. Become a benefactor to the child in your life. Maybe even to the child in you!