The importance of music

Many parents have heard of the benefits that music has on children. Experts agree that music can strengthen children's minds and serve as a fundamental skill of learning. Music can develop children's sense of patterning and memory skills. Some say music "nourishes children's brains." Music stimulates brain connections and can actually make children smarter. In the April 23, 1998, issue of Nature, researchers at the University of Munster in Germany reported their discovery that music lessons in childhood actually enlarge the brain. An area used to analyze the pitch of a musical note is enlarged 25 percent in musicians, compared to people who have never played an instrument. The findings suggest the area is enlarged through practice and experience. The earlier the musicians were when they started musical training, the bigger this area of the brain appears to be. With all of the research out there showing how important music is to a child, how do you make sure that your child is getting enough music in their life?

There are many different ways that parents can incorporate music into everyday activities. For example, you can play a variety of music in the background when your child is playing. It is also good to encourage your child to move to the beat of music and dance with them. This not only helps a child to learn rhythm, but it also helps children with their motor skills. Dancing with your child can also give your child time to burn off energy, which can help wind them down for a nap or for bed time.

There are also many programs in the community and through the school district that provide different music activities for children, from general music education and learning to play a specific instrument, to early childhood music programs which focus on music and movement. These programs will not only give a child an experience they will never forget, but it will help them in other subjects in school, along with stimulating the brain in ways that would not be possible through other means.

Family Support Council will be offering a free music class for children 1-4 years old called Music 'n Motion. Children will learn the basics of music and will get to play with a variety of instruments, as well as dancing and learning about movement. In addition to the music class, we will be offering other new and exciting classes such as Afternoon of Art, Everyday Eating, Daddy and Me Play Time and Basic Baby Food 1-2-3. Call our office at 782-8692 for more information or to register.

Family Support Council is funded by private donations as well as grants from The Smallwood Foundation, Nevada Children's Trust, and Family to Family Connection.

n Annie Mastrodonato is the Family to Family/Healthy Beginnings coordinator at the Family Support Council of Douglas County.


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