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From enthusiastic dancing to silly clapping to joyful singing, there is no doubt that kids enjoy a lively tune. And there’s good reason, as parents, to encourage this love of music as much as possible. “You’d be hard-pressed to find any other activity that engages so much of a child’s whole self,” says veteran music educator Susan Darrow, CEO of Music Together LLC, an organization that runs nationwide music programs for children from birth to age 7. “Music teaches children about love and joy, while also helping them develop language, cognitive, social, and emotional skills.”

Here, Darrow suggests five ways to help your child reap all the benefits that music has to offer.  

Start early. “We are all born to be music makers,” says Darrow, “meaning we all have the equipment at birth to participate in music and to learn music.” But the reason so many people grow up feeling like they’re not musical usually has to do with when music education begins. A baby’s brain is actually primed for music learning between birth and age five, and after that it becomes more difficult, says Darrow.

Build music rituals. One of the best ways to teach children about music is simply to incorporate it into their lives on a daily basis. Make certain moments of the day into “music moments.” This can be a special song you always sing at bath time or even a classic bedtime lullaby. “In my family, we have dance parties around four in the afternoon every day,” says Darrow. “Just when everyone is getting a little cranky, I put on some tunes and we all just dance like crazy in the living room!”

Mirror your child. “One of the things I always teach parents is to take a cue from their child,” says Darrow. “If you hear your child make a sound while you’re singing, echo her. If you see your child wiggle while you’re dancing, wiggle back.” This is a simple way that parents can support their child’s first music attempts, just as they might do with language.

Be a music role model. “All parents will tell you that, for better or worse, their child basically imitates everything they do,” says Darrow. “Kids learn everything from parents!” And a love of music is no exception, which is one of the reasons that Music Together’s classes encourage parent participation. It’s important that parents, whether they’re talented musicians or not, teach children to make music in addition to just consuming it. “Even if you’re not totally comfortable singing and dancing, trust that it doesn’t matter to your children,” says Darrow. “They will still learn about music from watching you. It doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune—as long as you’re having fun with it, your child is learning.”

Find a class. Music Together classes give you and your child the tools that help you integrate music into all aspects of your family’s life—and enjoy the benefits for years to come. “These are not music lessons,” says Darrow, “but rather classes that allow families to experience music in a nonperformance, playful way.” Visit to find a class near you.

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