How to create a musical life for your child

Oct 4, 2011 at 9:09 a.m. ET

There are plenty of studies out there detailing the connection between academic achievement and music: kids that participate in music tend to do better in school. This may be reason enough for you to want to create a more musical life for your child -- but the desire to create a musical life for your child is equally valid if it’s just for pure enjoyment. And music is enjoyable for all ages. From classical to jazz to country to rock and rap, you can create a musical life for your child. And you.


Creating a musical world isn't hard at all. It does take some deliberate action on your part, but it's not hard. Along the way you are likely to find your musical world expanding as well. Before long the whole family will converse as easily in Bach and Brubeck as it does in Beastie Boys and Bieber.

1Turn on the music, not the TV

In your day-to-day, favor the stereo or the MP3 player over the television. When you come home after a long day, turn on music. If it's been a tough day, try the classical station. If everyone is in a great mood, try some dance music. Choose a station to put on during dinner, and another for cleaning and perhaps another for the beginning of the day.

2Bring home musical toys

When looking for toys and gifts for your child, favor the musical. There are music based gifts for kids of all ages, though admittedly some are more expensive than others. If you can find inexpensive second hand MP3 players, younger kids love to have music of their own to listen to in their rooms and on trips.

3Make music out of…anything

Be open to your child making music out of just about anything. Banging on pots may give you a bit of a headache, but it's percussion! Introduce a beat! And pass the ibuprofen.

4Talk about music

Don't just listen to music, talk about it. Talk about music you like with your child and why you like it. Are you a sucker for ska and reggae? Or for anything Beethoven? Talk about the stories behind music, what it felt like to play in the marching band in high school -- anything music.

5Seek out musical events

Musical theater, recitals, chamber music, symphonies or concerts on the town green, there are opportunities for music almost every weekend. Look in your local newspaper and join local music organizations to learn about events taking place around you. Whenever possible, take your child to these events -- but go as grown ups, too. Knowing that mom and dad are heading off to the symphony also creates an understanding that music part of your family's life.

6Look for early classes and workshops

Those organizations that put on events? They likely have classes and workshops, too -- even for very young children. Sign up for a "music with mommy" class and allow your child to "jam" early. Plus they are lots of fun.

7start an instrument early

As soon as your have an opportunity, introduce your child to formal music instruction. Well before the age of instrument introduction in schools, there likely are opportunities for your child to start learning an instrument, whether piano or guitar or violin or some other instrument. Once your child is playing on his or her own, appreciation for what he or she hears will only increase.

Building a musical life for your child isn't hard, but it does take some deliberate effort. Before you know it, music and its part of the whole family's life will be second nature and you'll miss it when it's not there.

More on kids and music

Musical genius: How music makes your child smarter
Music lessons: Is your child ready?
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