Friday, January 23, 2015

Fostering Music Appreciation in Children

Music is an art form that reaches beyond the confines of words and actions. It touches us spiritually, cognitively, and emotionally. Music resonates within us; it can simultaneously reflect and change us. And as an art form, it is vital that we learn to appreciate it and foster appreciation for it in children because it advances language development, creativity, and a better understanding of history and culture.
In an academic setting, music is an integral part to an excellent and balanced education. Many music education supporters have correctly fought long and hard to maintain music programs within the public school system. They have had to answer tough questions like, “How does music benefit our students academically?” and have had to face the challenges of the extensive testing of Common Core, tight schedules, and limited resources.
As a school subject, music has been repeatedly proven to improve academic test scores, lead to intellectual success, close the academic gap, and encourage the development of important life skills such as discipline, teamwork, and communication. The studies that have strengthened the cause for music education are phenomenal, but they often miss the importance of music appreciation.
Teacher candidates in colleges and universities study the purpose of education in the United States; they learn that children are being prepared for future jobs, citizenship, and to be well-balanced individuals that appreciate deeper meaning and forms of beauty. All three purposes are equally significant, but sadly, the importance of the third one is often overlooked.
When we take the time to go to an art museum, a concert, or any other artistic endeavor, we rarely ask ourselves how academic standards are being met or if we are actually learning anything worthwhile. We may analyze the skill and quality of the art or performance, but we always move past scrutiny to how the art resonates with us. This is a natural instinct, one that is developed either consciously or unconsciously—often a combination of the two.
In appreciating music, we possess the knowledge and understanding of the universal and timeless qualities that classify all magnificent art. Babies are a great example of this; they freely enjoy music as far as their understanding permits them to. My son is less than a year old, but when I turn on music or sing for him, he immediately reacts to it. He appreciates music.
I began teaching the preschool music class less than ten weeks ago, and I have seen a lot of academic progress in my students. They are becoming more adept at identifying colors, letters, learning lyrics, and demonstrating life skills like sharing, taking turns, and helping with clean-up at the end of class. More notably, though, they demonstrate an appreciation for the music that they are learning. They happily sing along to familiar songs in class and at home, they sing and dance for their families.
It is imperative to foster music appreciation and encourage the natural instinct to love music in children. It cultivates a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. If you have children, or work with children in any capacity, take the time to expose them to all genres of music. Explore music with them through music classes, private lessons, various instruments, singing, and games at home.

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