I read a Harris poll that said 72% of parents believe that you are born either with or without the ability to carry a tune (That’s FALSE!). It also said that only 17% of parents sing to their children daily (DARN!) —and yet nearly all (98%) believe that children need music education. (YAY!) There are several disconnects here.
First of all, it is not true that you are either born musical or not. Just as we are born with the potential to walk and talk, we have enough musical ability to learn to sing in tune and move in time, as long as we had enough rich music experiences during our early years. Isn’t it great to know that YES! your children can learn to carry a tune and comfortably participate in music activities throughout their lives? (PHEW!)
What if you are tone-deaf?
While lots of people claim to be tone-deaf, it is extremely rare. Most of them just didn’t achieve basic music competence because of a lack of early experience and/or didn’t get enough practice in our performance-oriented culture. Remember that misunderstanding about being born with talent vs. development through experience and practice? Unfortunately, many who believe that they don't “have talent” simply stop trying, and even their parents might assume music is not a fit for them and so they stop supporting it.
What do you think supporting music development looks like? When I mention supporting children’s music development I often hear parents say- “we love music; we play it all the time.” While playing recorded music, of course, is wonderful! think of this: We teach children language by continuously talking and reading to them. Can you imagine if children only heard speech by listening to recordings? The best thing you can do to support your child’s musical growth is to sing and dance in their presence and directly with them every day.
If you just said YIKES! relax. It doesn’t even matter if you are a good singer or dancer. Bouncing your child on your knee along with a recording, making up silly songs, singing a lullaby—these are all ways to create the kind of music environment your children need to develop their inborn music potential. If they see you loving music and making music yourself, it will be natural for them and they will seek it out and spontaneously break out in song too. Learning new songs, singing and dancing together, and playing music together every day builds relationships in a fun way and helps your child become a competent music maker. Your skills might improve too!