I am often asked why my Babies are so musical. Most assume it is a dominant genetic trait and perhaps there is some of that – double allele and all. If I look at our ancestry, I recall stories about “great voices” and music as the evening entertainment before electronics. Grandpa Golden was said to play a fine fiddle. I make great music in my head – not so great with voice and fingers. Grandiose ideas, however, go a long way and in the end, if parental talent is just so so, music lessons for Babies make up for parental deficits.
Just make certain that piano is in tune.
Would you let them quit math?” That is my standard reply to the question about why my kids are musical. It took me a couple of Babies to refine this philosophy. I was convinced that lessons in music provided a special type of education that yielded results in many areas of cognitive development (1). Public education dollars had decreased, and so had the opportunities for music education in the schools.
Therefore, I decided: Piano lessons until 16 years old. Then they can quit if they want.
While some of my Babies also studied voice and performed in school bands on trumpets and drums, I made piano the basis. Piano uses two hands and calls on both sides of the brain. They learn to read music which includes both treble and bass clef. If they play another instrument, they may only learn one clef. Piano, in tune, helps train the ear early. No matter what instrument is chosen, those who choose to major in music in college need to learn piano.
Later, I discovered that violin offered some unique qualities to my plan for music education. I had heard of the Suzuki method, and so with Last Baby, looked for a Suzuki piano teacher – sorry, all full. But, there was room in the violin program. Why not. Little did I know that I was about to uncover a diamond in the form of the Suzuki Association in Modesto, California and a force for good in the philosophies of founder, Shinichi Suzuki. It is rare to find an organization that fully meshes with one’s parenting philosophies. Music lessons were offered on piano, guitar, violin, viola, and cello. A central philosophy bound the organization and yielded an excellent place for Babies to develop in all areas. While exceptional Baby musicians could be found there, ALL were valued and encouraged no matter what the level of expertise. A developmental garden of music was found.
“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” Shinichi Suzuki
1. McMaster University. (2012, May 9). Babies’ brains benefit from music lessons, even before they can walk and talk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 23, 2014 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509123653.htm