Clark playing the cello

Music Education Benefits Child Development

young man with mandoline
Clark at age 21 with Kay’s mandolin

Who is This?

This is the very musical Clark, who I was pregnant with when I went through Kindermusik training. He is evidence, for me, that children in utero are alive, hear our world, and benefit from music exposure even before they are born.

When he was a baby, he would listen to me sing for hours. He soon developed an extraordinary curiosity about the piano, sitting at it before age one. He is not a prodigy, but he is a natural musician. He has sung and played music on a number of stages and venues. He is even able to identify the letter name of the note you are singing by ear! Currently he loves any instrument he can get his hands on, deals with the stress of college by playing the piano, enjoys composing music and listens to calm, electric, or funk selections constantly.

Does Music Exposure Really Help?

HOWEVER, according to “The ‘Mozart Effect’ – the idea that playing classical music for kids in utero makes them come out smarter – has been debunked.” Still Fatherly says that the social, emotional, and cognitive benefits of music education have been well documented, and many say start kicking in as early as preschool. 

Assal Habibi ,the senior research associate at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, says that children’s cognitive development is accelerated by music education. Though you might have missed making your child smarter in utero, “you can use music to promote academic success now that they’re here.”

Dr. Habibi’s 5 year study tracked a group of 6 and 7 year-olds in L.A. who had no prior music training. Dr. Habibi’s team compared this group of kids, involved in the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles program, with a group of kids involved in a typical after-school sports program. “After one year the music kids were better able than the other to memorize a series of numbers. After 2 years, euro-imaging data showed the music kids’ auditory pathways – the ear-to-brain connections where sounds get translated – were rapidly developing.”

Come to think of it, all five of my children not only heard music in utero, but also participated in many musical experiences throughout their childhood. They each play piano, a string instrument, and sing. They have fond (I hope) memories of being in musicals, orchestras, piano and vocal ensembles, and singing while on the road and trail. They are also pretty smart! What can I say? Music education gives kids a huge advantage.

How Do I Bring More Music Into My Child’s Life?

More ways to make your child’s life more musical:

  • Have access to musical instruments to experiment on. (Let your kids see and touch your guitar, give them a ukulele for Christmas, have a recorder, kazoo, or other instruments hanging around.)
  • Sing. (“Head Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “Star Spangeled Banner” are good for starters.)
  • Enroll in a parent toddler music class. (Music and Me Academy offers online music classes that are very affordable and fun!)
  • Bang on your pots and pans. (Find a steady beat. Pound the rhythm while singing a “OOOOOklahoma”. Play a rhythm and have them repeat it.)
  • Express feelings in lots of ways. (Crying is aloud, I mean allowed.)
  • Listen to all kinds of appropriate uplifting music. (Beattles, Tabernacle Choir, Mozart)
  • Encourage movement to music. (Let your hair down. Enjoy it, even with your eyes closed!)
  • Socialize through music. Structured dance (Ring around the Rosie) and free dance (jamming to Michael Jackson) as a family is an example of social interaction through music. Singing around the piano or to the radio is another.
  • Accept creative new ways of doing things around the house. (For example: recipes, art, and musical expression.)

There are so many ways to be musical! Whether you have a bit of MUSICAL TRAINING like Clark, or not, I am sure you have been blessed by music. You can find more richness by bringing more music in your life and your family’s life. There is no wrong or right way to do it. Sing a song – aloud – … and enjoy it!

boy playing cello
My Music Classes for your child are now on-line.
Clark playing the cello
Clark with his cello at age 9.

Want to know more about how to sing with your young child? Easy! Fill out this form:

Music and Me is online music courses I developed to support parents who want more opportunities to interact with their young child. Music is a wonderful and easy way to do this.

My Backyard is a music class that encourages caregiver and child to interact through musical activities that relate to things in your own backyard! You will learn catchy songs and rhymes that you will use throughout your day. It is a fun class full of surprises (singing and vocal development, movement, listening, playing simple instruments that you can find around your house, story time and exploratory time), and an important class that stimulates brain development and creative play.

Kristin Shaeffer has a degree in elementary education. She has taught general music, musical theater, and piano to hundreds of youth for more than 30 years. Each of her own 5 children play piano, a string instrument and sing! She says, “I love children and children love music. After enhancing child development in private, community and public settings I’m convinced of the magic of music.” Now as an authority on music education, she strives to make a positive difference in this world – one musical activity at a time.”

Music and Me Academy

If you want to learn catchy songs and rhymes that you will use throughout your day CLICK HERE. These interactive classes are fun and important.