One of the principles of Music Together is that all children are musical at birth and can respond to music around them. The key is for parents to tune into how babies express their reactions to music, explains Susan Darrow, CEO of Music Together, the internationally renowned music education program for children ages birth through grade two.
“When you hold your baby and walk, march, skip, or sway to the beat of a song or sing to her, you are teaching her about rhythm. She is building a ‘body memory’ of moving to the beat that she will be able to call upon once she is able to move to music on her own. And babies are capable of showing you that they really do feel and hear the music. It is incredible to witness,” Darrow says. She adds, “There is a natural capacity to respond unintentionally to music in vocal ways that are evident at birth. Babies adjust their sounds, like crying, to the structural pitches around them. Some researchers suggest that there is a universal pitch structure for all people.” Babies can begin to match their cooing pitches intentionally to the music around them before they are even six months old. They are wired to cue into the ends of phrases, just as they are wired to cue in to the ends of sentences in language.
In a music environment, babies are continually processing what they hear with what they see and feel. That’s why movement is such an integral part of a young child’s music education. Offer babies a chance to connect what they hear (the sounds of music) with what they feel (the beat of the song) with what they see (Mommy moving to the rhythm of the song).
The most important window of opportunity for music learning is the time from birth to age 5 and children learn music while they’re little the same way they learn their native language, through immersion. Music education starts at birth, not in the first grade, when they start music lessons.
If we immerse a child in a rich music environment from the time they are born they can learn to be fluent in the language of music, pretty effortlessly.
At Pitter Patter Club, parents and caregivers discover fun ways to play with music and rhythms all week long, while supporting the children's music-learning and overall development.