How a Music Class Builds Kindergarten Readiness Skills

January 5, 2013

Music Makers kids playing cellosMarin Mommies presents a guest article from Marin County music educator Cindy Cohen Levy.

There are lots of great classes for toddlers and preschoolers in Marin. Have you ever wondered what a music class might teach your child?

Music classes develop many skills: kindergarten readiness skills, a love of music, and a music foundation to help a child later play an instrument. As far as kindergarten readiness, I call three of the skills the three Cs of kindergarten readiness: Concentration, Coordination, and Communication.

Music teachers can use many methods to hold and build concentration like tapping simple rhythmic patterns for the group to echo or reading simple musical notes. Kids can have lots of fun playing a variety of musical instruments or reenacting classic music stories like Peter and the Wolf.

Seek a class that teaches the elements of music while letting kids experiment on real instruments. This will help build the concentration children need for preschool and kindergarten. “How do you make the sound get slower?” the teacher may ask as she explains tempo. Or she may explain vibration and ask the children to stop the sound by touching the instrument. Some classes will teach more advanced elements like harmony (many parts/few parts). Demonstrating tempo, vibration, and harmony is great fun and super engaging for kids!

Children quickly develop an ability to tap out a few patterns and gain confidence in creating and following music. If your child’s first group learning experiences flow easily and are not frustrating, he/she will like to learn. The success a child achieves in music class becomes the success achieved in the kindergarten class. These positive associations last a lifetime!

A child improves his or her coordination and dexterity by playing instruments. Think of how she sees, hears, holds, and adjusts the violin bow to change the sound. Seek a class where children will play a variety of musical instruments from many countries. Along with coordination skills, instruments will connect your child with cultures and traditions from around the world.

Watching and listening to a jazz musician create beautiful, funny, happy, or spooky sounds on a saxophone teaches your child that music is a powerful way to express emotion. Seek a class where kids are empowered to create their own songs and express their experiences through vocal and instrumental play. With growing awareness of music and sounds, children listen more carefully and share with others what they hear. This is great brain stimulation!

Music Makers music classLook for a music teacher that asks your child questions and encourages verbal participation. In a dynamic music class, children learn to express themselves and to listen to others. Children learn cooperation and group social skills by sharing instruments and putting them away. Children develop self esteem and feel they are a part of a music-making community which enlarges their world.

To continue the fun and expand vocabulary, play your CDs from music class often to reinforce learning and encourage focused listening. Sing and play with the music and children will naturally want to repeat their favorite songs. Sing to your children during activities like driving, bath time, and teeth brushing. Make the joy of music a daily part of life for your child as a baby, toddler, preschooler and beyond.

Cindy Cohen Levy is the founder of Music Makers, and has been teaching music classes in Marin (two blocks from Highway 101 in Tiburon) for over 20 years. She has recorded five albums of children’s music (Parents Choice Award winner). As a former elementary school teacher, she builds kindergarten-readiness skills while teaching music. Contact Cindy at cindy@music-makers.org or (415) 461-1066 or www.facebook.com/MusicMakersTiburon.