Raising Musical Children – What is Music Readiness and What Does it Mean For My Child?

Music readiness is a term that music teachers apply to describe a list of behaviors that show tendencies towards being ready to study music. The list varies by teachers and differs due to the teacher’s personal experience with teaching young children. Not all teachers have or want this experience. So, what does music readiness mean for your child?

In traditional private lessons, readiness refers to the ability to concentrate or focus on lesson interactions for a specified length of time, to have the physical ability to move from large to small motor movement activities, and to remember instruction from week to week. But music education has evolved far beyond the traditional private lesson, and includes much more for the very young child that is not ready for traditional private instruction.

Typical music readiness experiences for the very young child offer frequently changing activities, repetition of musical ideas, use of large motor skills, limited music reading using extra large music symbols, group activities that teach social interaction, lots of singing and dancing, lots of rhythm instruments, and lots of fun.

Most children in the preschool ages 2 to 5 will be able to be part of organized group music lessons that focus on singing, movement, a variety of rhythm instruments, and basic level experiences with an instrument such as violin or keyboard as the focus. There are several excellent methods and philosophies from which you might choose.

Kindermusik, Orff, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kodalyi, and Dalcroze are all recognized and respected systems of music education that offer beginning music lessons for very young children. Each requires specialized instructor training, resulting in certification by the organizing method.

Suzuki instructors follow the belief that students can and should learn music as easily as they learn their own mother tongue. Students as young as 2 learn to play the violin on small sized instruments, following their violinist leader. They learn their music by ear.

Yamaha also offers group lessons exploring music with very limited keyboard use as the basis for studying music theory and note reading. Singing memorizing the Do, Re, Mi system is one way that students participate in this method.

Kodayi is a singing method that uses hand motions to signify changes in musical pitch, thereby training students to internalize music making with sight, sound, and motion. This system understands that children learn in different ways and that each learning path should be included in some way.

Orff uses a wide variety of pitched and non-pitched rhythm instruments and singing to develop musical skills. In the largest programs, entire Orff orchestras may be used to perform works of music.

Kindermusik uses a planned set of musical lessons engaging students in a wide variety of organized musical experiences using clapping, singing, and rhythm instruments.

Dalcoze is a respected method that uses movement, singing, and rhythms.

Some three year old children may be able to take private piano lessons. There exist excellent method books by educators such as Bastien, Noona, or Alfred. Keep in mind that these methods use pre-reading lessons that are not traditional in appearance or scope, and that experienced teachers often offer shorter lessons for this age student to plan for their short attention spans. Parents must help their children practice, too.

Once you and your child have experienced music making together in one of these group settings, you will have a better idea of how your child learns, and what your child likes. You can always choose an instrument and private lessons later on.

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