THE IMPORTANCE OF ADDING MUSIC INTO YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION
Research has shown that sending children to music lessons from age seven helps speed their development of motor skills. On top of this, there is a special window of learning between the ages of six and eight when musical training interacts with motor development, producing long-term changes to the brain.
We talk to music teachers Daniela Rodnite and Christopher Brandt (from GEMS World Academy Singapore) as they help us to understand the importance of music in a child’s education and they let us into their musical world.
We find out that sparks flew when their passion for music brought Daniela Rodnite and Christopher Brandt together during a music festival. It has truly been a musical journey as their talents have since inspired both their sons to embark on their own musical path.
Daniela, who is trained in renowned The Juilliard School, and Christopher do face challenges along the way as the importance placed on music and the arts are sometimes deemed not as important compared to other subjects like mathematics and science. But, as we find out here, adding music into your child’s education is important and can have huge benefits.
How can music help develop children to their fullest potential?
Daniela: I believe that music education is of central importance in the development of today’s global citizens. Artistic expression is a basic creative impulse and it is the music teacher’s duty to nurture that creativity from the earliest pre-school years. Students of all ages and levels of ability should be given the opportunity to develop their musical talents and to demonstrate their abilities through regular performances from kindergarten through high school. The collaborative exchanges in music-making will serve as a positive model for interpersonal relationships throughout the student’s life. Habits of discipline formed with regard to vocal or instrumental performance will likewise have a profoundly beneficial and lifelong effect in such critical areas as concentration, time-management, work-ethic and self-improvement. Furthermore, the confidence engendered by musical achievement and public performance contributes substantially to healthy levels of self-esteem.
How parents can instil a music culture in the family?
Parents can create a home filled with music through different approaches, e.g. having music flowing through the home whenever appropriate. It is also important to encourage a love for music by attending parent-child music/dance classes and this is best done when the child is at a toddler stage to subtly infuse music as part of his or her daily life.
As the child gets older, parents have the option to formalise the musical training by signing the child up for musical classes in which they show an interest. A parent may also encourage a child’s musical abilities by creating music together, whether it’s the child playing an instrument with the parent singing or child and parent playing different instruments together. It can even be a way of ‘hanging out’ with a teenager. Any combination in any genre of music will send a strong message to your child about the shared joy of making music.
Finally, parents should be patient with their child if they are experiencing difficulty in learning. Different children have different development rates and parents should not be discouraged. Instead, allow the child to focus on the joys of music and to develop at his/her own pace. Most importantly, they should focus on having a great time with the child.
How does music bring people, and families, together?
Music brings people together through mutual appreciation. I’m sure many of us who have attended concerts have felt a deep sense of camaraderie and community among fellow fans. Similarly, those who create music will understand the friendships and bonds that develop from making music with others.
In fact, we met each other at Tanglewood, a noted summer music festival in western Massachusetts, so we can certainly say that music brought us together. Our sons, Nico (17) and Tobias (15), also play the guitar and saxophone respectively and this shared experience as musicians has helped in our family bonding.
Music can also be a symbol of our cultural identity. Certain songs are intertwined in the fabric of our culture and society, which can bring people from similar cultures together.
What are some of the challenges you face as music teachers?
Some of the challenges that music teachers face include the low priority of music in the education system. There are often times when other subjects such as mathematics and science are prioritised at the expense of music and the arts in other schools.
However, holistic learning opportunities are a fundamental strength for the programmes at GWA Singapore. GWA Singapore is committed to provide a bala students are being creatively challenged through extraordinary opportunities.
It is important that music is something that can be enjoyed over the course of a lifetime and it is, therefore, a truly important part of education. Enjoyment is a big part of music-making, so music educators need to be attuned to that aspect as well as the need for hard work and discipline.
Which instruments are best suited for young children to start learning?
At GWA Singapore, music lessons are guided by specialist teachers. In addition, all students from Grades 1 – 5 are provided with either a violin or cello.
When picking an instrument for young children, we have to consider the sizes of the children’s hands. Commencing their musical journey with string instruments in the music programme, as opposed to wind or keyboard instruments, was carefully thought out. It took into consideration the fact that students in Grades 1 – 5 have smaller hands, making string instruments better suited for the younger children.
However, the interests of the child and their personal strengths should also be taken into account when selecting an instrument for a young child.
How do you make it easy for young children to learn when they cannot yet read music?
The primary aim of teaching music for younger children are three-fold: the introduction of the students to the full spectrum of musical experience, the development of vocal and instrumental skills, and the management and integration of music into the daily life of the school. Children learn best through playing. As they do not respond well to lengthy explanations, a play-focused environment allows them to learn without even realising they are learning.
One of the strategies we employ at GWA Singapore is to teach music in groups. Children learn best in a group environment as they are able to explore and learn from their peers.
How can parents help continue the interest of their child in music as they get older?
Parents play a pivotal role in their child’s musical development. Parents can help continue their child’s interest in music by being involved and engaged with their child’s musical activities.
Continuous encouragement is a positive approach, and it may include simple things like praising them for their efforts when they make a breakthrough or overcome a challenge.
Parents can also help ensure their child have access and exposure to different musical opportunities. Parents should also be careful not to impose their preferences on their child, keeping in mind that music, regardless of any instrument, can be beneficial for their child.
Parents can partner with their child’s school and teachers to help ensure that their child’s interest is sustained. A successful music teacher creates an atmosphere of mutual respect in which the students’ musicianship may be brought to the highest level creating a lasting love for the art of music while a fine music programme serves as a bridge linking the school’s other creative arts departments and fosters a harmonious sense of well-being in the school and the student as a whole.
- Thank you to Daniela and Christopher from GEMS World Academy Singapore (GWA Singapore)
Daniela Rodnite teachers violin and music to budding musicians. Daniela was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in San Francisco area. A graduate of a world-leading music conservatory, The Julliard School, she is a prize winner of numerous fellowships and competitions.
Daniela believes that music education is essential to the development of a global citizen. Music positivity impacts interpersonal relationships and helps a child understand the importance of discipline in critical areas such as concentration, time management, work techies and self-improvement.
Christopher Brandt teaches cello in the primary years and general music in the secondary. Christopher holds a Bachelor’s Degree in music from Oberlin College & Conservatory in the United States and a Masters from New England Conservatory.
For more information about GWA Singapore do visit their website or call +65 6808 7300.
Image and video credit : GWA Singapore