Music can bring a smile to your face. It can calm you down or
lift you up. It makes you move, makes you think. So it's no
surprise that music has a proven, positive effect on learning.
Since music integrates the mind and the body-such as when a
child dances to the beat of a drum or taps a tune on a piano-it
helps strengthen sensory integration, a critical factor when it
comes to reading and math readiness and achievement.
Music does more than soothe the soul. It helps
with sensory integration, creative development, and confidence. So
crank it up!
Here are some ideas for bringing the magic of music into the
life of your family:
Turn up the volume (not too loud). Play some
Motown tunes while folding the laundry, introduce your child to
your '80s dance faves while cooking dinner, calm a cranky toddler
(and yourself!) by live streaming some classical tranquilizers
online (try tuning in to Boston Public Radio's classical outpost,
wgbh.org). All types of music have a positive effect on learning,
so turn up Dolly Parton or grab your fake microphone and air guitar
and morph into the newest member of the Rolling Stones.
Dance! Dance! Dance! There is nothing quite
like moving to the beat of an African drum or stepping to the
rhythm of salsa. Grab your husband, grab your kids and dance!
dance! dance! in the kitchen, in the living room, it doesn't matter
where. As the old Japanese proverb goes, "We're fools whether we
dance or not, so we might as well dance."
Encourage your child to study dance or a musical
instrument. The Old Town School of Folk Music, with two
locations in Chicago (Lincoln Square and Lincoln Park), offers an
amazing array of dance classes for both children and adults, from
West African to Mexican Folkloric, classical ballet to hip-hop.
Music class offerings are extremely varied as well. From guitar and
ukulele to fiddle and percussion, there's an instrument to fit
every child (or adult-go ahead and take those guitar lessons you've
always dreamed about). Piano instruction is offered for children as
young as 3½ via the school's Little Red Piano program.
Attend musical performances. Not to be missed
is the world-class Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Kraft Foods Family
Matinee Series, a kid-friendly introduction to the world's finest
composers. Arrive early for pre-concert activities, including arts
and crafts, instrument petting zoos, composers' workshops and
performances by young musicians.
Support music education. Sadly, many schools
have cut their music education programs due to budget constraints.
The VH1 Save The Music Foundation wants to reverse this trend.
Dedicated to restoring instrumental music education in American
public schools, it works to raise awareness about the importance of
music as part of each child's complete education. Since 1997, the
foundation has provided $45 million worth of new musical
instruments to more than 1,700 public schools in more than 100
cities around the country, impacting the lives of more than 1.4
million public school students. Check out the website,
vh1savethemusic.com, where you can learn more about the importance
of music in education, donate or, better yet, download the Music
Advocacy Toolkit and learn how to take steps to encourage music
education in your local schools and community.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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