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Things to consider when introducing music to children and youth

Updated on April 11, 2013
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Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

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Youth and music has always been an interesting mix. Music plays an important role in the lives of young ones and the young at heart. Whatever disagreements we may have about music with our children, there remains one thing that we agree on-the fact that it is a must-have part of our lives.

As parents or teachers,difficulties arise when deciding on what kinds of music we should introduce the younger set to. We may be worried that whatever we introduce young people to is too mundane.Yet, we also worry that they will be exposed to some of the unhealthy influences that music sometimes introduces them to.

Music, while having immeasurable benefits for children, has a number of positive and negative effects. There are also some things to bear in mind when introducing children or even teens to music. This writer will also suggest some healthy yet “cool” numbers that kids and teens might like to listen to.

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What are the benefits of music for youth?

Music, it is clear, has many positive benefits for our children and youth. Besides boosting one’s brain power, it also helps children and youth socially and emotionally.

It increases a child’s brain activity.

More and more studies are showing the correlation between music and academic achievement. Children who are involved with music do tend to perform better academically.

It also boosts creativity. Children who listen to music are better able to see things from more rounded perspectives and think out of the box.

It boosts the memory and helps to form associations.

Children who listen to music can remember things better because they can associate them with particular songs and movements. "Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child's learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development," says Maestro Eduardo Marturet, a conductor, composer and musical director for the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

I have personally found music an effective way for students to recall poetic concepts. When teaching poetry, I often use songs as poems, and this helps them to make associations with metaphor, rhyme and personification. A favorite of mine to use is Julian Lennon’s Saltwater, which discusses how we should take better care of the environment.

It boosts social skills.

Picking up instruments can help a child relate better to others. Students who are parts of group ensembles or bands are often better able to cope with group dynamics and relate to each other socially.

I personally find this true of the band I used to helm in one of the secondary schools I was teaching in. The students involved often had many friends and were well-liked by others.

It builds confidence.

Having an added musical skill can help to build confidence and self-esteem. I have found that students who can play the piano and perform pieces in front of others are better able to approach others with more confidence.

A boy with autism I was previously teaching was able to break out of his social shell once he was able to play a little of his favorite theme from Ultraman. Thereafter, he was on a musical roll, and has been enrolled by his parents in different musical classes.

Kids learn to be patient.

Children learn to be patient when learning music. Music teaches discipline. Practicing the piano or other instruments helps a child to imbibe this virtue.

They also learn about reaping the rewards of effort and feel a sense of achievement once they have learned to play their favorite tunes on instruments.

Music helps children to connect

Children who learn music have a greater sense of well-being. In fact, music is a way for everyone to unwind and be free from the worries of life. It also helps people to be a part of life.

People also form connections with one another with music. This is why we feel that ‘aha’ when we know someone who loves rock or classical music in the way we do!

It promotes lifelong learning.

You can never know all there is to know about music, and there will always be an avenue for more learning. If you have exhausted all ways of learning about classical music, you can move on to another genre, and it does not seem to stop.

I was a classical pianist who found a strong liking for pop, blues and swing, and have been learning and loving it since.

It is a great form of self-expression

Music can be a healthy way of telling people who you are and what you stand for. It shows everyone what is in the soul.

This is why sometimes pieces of music, though well-played, can seem rather flat. This is because they are effective only when one puts oneself and soul into them.

It soothes the child’s psyche.

Music helps to soothe a child’s psyche when he is feeling stressed out or depressed. Soft music helps one to decrease one’s anxiety level.

This is why children will benefit when music is played softly while they are studying. For many, it helps to approach concepts with more clarity.

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The effect of music on youth

Some of us may be wondering why music has such an effect on young people. Shows like American Idol and The Voice have drawn legions of fans, and so have many performers.

What explains the pull that music has on young people?

Music appeals to emotions.

Research done by Anne Blood and Robert Zatorre of the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2001 shows that music appeals particularly to the emotional centres of the brain. Younger people are more directed by emotions than adults, and form connections with their favorite stars when they hear their songs.

This explains why a group of 20 students turned in papers on Justin Bieber for an examination right after he performed at a concert here in Singapore.

Group Identity

Music helps young people to identify themselves as part of a group. This explains terms like ‘Beliebers” for fans of Justin Bieber. Some Beliebers in my class happily decorated desks and the entire back of the classroom in purple, with his posters, until I had to gently suggest that other items be put up. Music reinforces solidarity and gives young people a shared experience that helps them connect with one another.

Rhythm

The rhythm of music can trigger physical reactions such as foot tapping, hand clapping and dance, enjoyable in the right context. It can indeed generate an altered state of consciousness in people.

This is why people sing along when asked to at their favorite performer’s concerts or when listening to videos.

Negativity of Hip Hop music

Do not get me wrong because I enjoy a good hip hop track as much as the next young person.

Some tracks, though, do contain some rather explicit imagery and lyrics that parents cannot be faulted for being uncomfortable with.


As such, being selective when allowing a relatively young child who is at the age of learning how to make moral judgements would be called for

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How to introduce music to young children

Music, when introduced and reinforced positively can have a profound effect on children and even youth who have not been so exposed to it before. So how would we start to bring music into a child’s life?

Sing with your child.

Sing along with your child, even though you are not going to win the next segment of The Voice. You will have fun with your child and even break free from your own inhibitions!

Make music with things around you.

The avant garde percussion group Stomp does this well. They utilize pots, pans, trash cans and even things in the sewer to make their point and produce great music.

You can also do so with your child. It can be something as simple as clapping your hands to a tune!

Introduce your child to different types of music.

Do not just confine your child’s taste to classical music-try to add variety to his life. Introduce him to jazz, country or hits of a different era.

I am not of the era of the 50s or 60s but enjoyed the hits these decades produced, having been introduced to them by my father, a pop guitarist who still performs at functions. It has influenced me to teach music myself.

Let them experiment!

Introduce them to it gradually by giving them instruments like mini accordions, keyboards and harmonicas for them to experiment with.If they like it, they will carry on to develop the interest further.

I learned the harmonica from my grandfather, and picked it up in the harmonica club in school. I learned later to enjoy blues numbers on the harmonica too.

Let your child see you perform.

If you play the piano, guitar or any other instrument, let your child see you performing. Their curiosity will get them to be more involved with music.

It also serves as a wonderful bonding activity with your child.

Try personalized music.

People are beginning to explore this in a big way. Lots of kid songs can be personalized to include your child’s name, like the Birthday Song, ABCs, or Wake up and Let’s Play. Lyrics can be personalized to include the name of the child. It is a fun way for children to connect with and enjoy music.

Fireworks Katy Perry

Some suitable songs for children and young teens

If you want to introduce some songs to a child but are wary that he or she might scream “boring”, there are many very recent, toe tapping yet free from unhealthy references that a child can be exposed to.


Fireworks by Katy Perry

Written and performed by American recording artist Katy Perry. Perry wrote the song with Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Sandy Wilhelm and Ester Dean, It was produced by Stargate and Sandy Vee for Perry's third studio album,Teenage Dream (2010).

A song that emphasizes self esteem, it is profanity free and does not make any references to subjects that children are too young to understand.

Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heroes feat Adam Levine

Stereo Hearts by Gym Class featuring Adam Levine

This song compares ones heart to a stereo that pulses for his love, and is completely devoid of sensitive subject matter. Sing this with Gym Class Heroes and Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5.

It's only me when I'm with you by Taylor Swift

I’m only me when I’m with you by Taylor Swift

This is a wholesome number by Taylor Swift which discusses the idea that you can only be yourself around the one you love. Again, it is very tame and Swift’s Country sound is guaranteed to keep your child’s toes tapping.

Breakaway Kelly Clarkson

Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

This song is a wholesome number that celebrates individuality. From the movie soundtrack of The Princess Diaries 2, it was written by Avril Lavingne, Matthew Gerrad and Briget Benenate for Clarkson’s first album Let Go. Deemed unsuitable, it was given to Clarkson later to include as part of the soundtrack for the Princess Diaries.

What makes you beautiful One direction

What makes you beautiful by One Direction

The debut single and lead single from the English-Irish group’s album Up All Night, Written by

Rami Yacoub, Carl Falk and Savan Kotecha, it was released by Syco Records on 11 September 2011. It debuted at number one on the UK singles charts and reached the top ten on several Billboard charts including the US Billboard Hot 100.


Again another song about self-esteem and belief in self, it good musical fodder for teens.

Move in the Right Direction by Gossip

Move in the Right Direction by Gossip


About facing fears, letting go of past unhappiness and moving forward, it is a positive tune to introduce to young people. The song found success for the group in parts of Europe like Poland, Austria and Hungary when it was released in 2012 as the second single from their album A Joyful Noise. A good listen for both young people and adults.

You raise me up by Westlife

You raise me up by Westife/Josh Groban

The song is ideal if you want to introduce children to some skills in singing. A song that addresses how people can lift each other’s spirits, it is a good song for children to hear.

I adapted this for my choir some time ago and it proved to be a popular listen at our school concert.

Express Yourself Labrinth

Whatever you do, do it good -express yourself by Labrinth

This is a catchy, personal favorite of mine because it is addresses self confidence. It is a great listen for children who feel awkward or have problems with self confidence.

Conclusion

Introducing music to the generation of the times can be a rewarding experience for both yourself and the child. There are some upbeat tunes that will get both of you grooving!


Here, I would like to thank the writers who have answered the question “What are your opinions on the effect of music on children and young people?” Do take the time to read some of their work.

Copyright Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin All rights reserved

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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      The benefits of music for children, its effects and how to introduce it to them. Some catchy tunes for kids and adults to listen to.

    • James-wolve profile image

      Tijani Achamlal 3 years ago from Morocco

      Very interesting and informative.THANKS for this hub.

      Obviously,children have a natural love for music. They love a good tune with an energetic beat. It’s amazing what music can do for a kid.. We all have our personal stories of using music to calm a colicky baby or playing a favourite lullaby to put a little one to sleep.I voted up

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for sharing, James! Music has the power to motivate children in a way nothing else can. The rhythm can really get your feet moving! Thanks for sharing!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      Loved this article Michelle, because I can attest with two small children that music is truly a wonderful addition from the time they are young for some many of the reasons you listed above. Also, loved some of your music selections, especially Katy Perry's Fireworks!!! Have, of course, voted up and shared all over!!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Music is so important for kids! Studies mentioned that it improves learning in other subject as well!

      My kids learned music through the Suzuki method. It was nice to see them grow and progress through that method. The concert at the end of each year with all the kids was quite impressive; you could see tiny kids with their tiny violin to tall adolescents with a regular size violin. My kids made friends through that too.

      And as you said in your article they learn so many things in music!

      Great article to promote music with kids Michelle :-)

      Voted up and awesome!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, music can be so beneficial for the very small ones, Janine. I'm sure Lily and Emma enjoy it immensely! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Wow, the kids must play with the violin superbly! Thanks for sharing, Kidscrafts!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      Music is important to any age, I think. Even infants will move their limbs if they hear music. When my children were small, they would gather around the piano while I played. All four of them grew up to love music and play different instruments themselves.

      I don't care for Rap music, though...gives me a headache!

      Voted UP and will share.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions and points made. Music is very, very important to children and I believe all should be encouraged to play an instrument, and given a love for music.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Well done, Michelle. Are you from the 80's era? hee hee. I loved your suggestions here and the addition of each song was very helpful. Two thumbs up and A/U/I

    • NMLady profile image

      NMLady 3 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      It is absolutely no exaggeration to say that I stayed in school because of music. I played the viola in the orchestra. The rest of school bored me and so much of it scared me. As an adult now with a Masters.....I KNOW music kept me in school. I am sharing this WONDERFUL piece on music! Voted wayyyyy up!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 3 years ago from United States

      Great article on the benefits of music with children. My oldest son recently (as within this past week) is very eager to learn to play the piano sitting in our basement. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 3 years ago from Georgia country

      This is an absolutely well written article about the benefits of music for children. My little daughter who is 10 months old really loves guitar music and my son loves to play the piano. It's so great.

    • jenbeach21 profile image

      jenbeach21 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Great information here! My daughter is very musical and we are looking into guitar lessons for her.

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      Valleypoet 3 years ago

      I wish I had learned to play a musical instrument when I was younger...I want my daughter to learn when she is a little older. There are so many benefits, such as the ones you have covered in your hub Michelle. A very informative read, thank you:-))

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

      Great tips, Michelle

      I loved the few examples you have given with regards to kids learning music.

      Music ought to be in the Air for theses kiddos to get inspired.

      Well said.

      Sharing it across

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Fantastic hub, and so true. It can be so soothing at the same time as helping the child to learn more. I remember learning the piano when I was small, I kept playing for many years, then funnily enough my son started too, but without lessons, now he can play anything! wonderful hub, and voted up! nell

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent hub! You know as the administrator of a music school for 20 years I am in full agreement with you. I am going to link this hub of yours to my '... chose the right instrument for your child' as soon as I am on my computer again. Voted up and totally awesome :)

    • Marilyn Kee profile image

      Marilyn Kee 3 years ago from Penang, Malaysia

      Great hub! I've been working in music schools for at least 3 years now & I can't agree more with you!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary! Wow, glad to know a fellow pianist!! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, they should, Bill!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      No, the 90s.....but had to listen to the things kids listen to when I teach music...not very easy! Thanks for sharing, Denise!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, NMlady, so did I! Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Stephanie!! Let him play, you'll never know!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Cool! The guitar is less expensive & also portable. WTG Janet!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Cool, Jennifer! I'm sure she'll love them!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      She'll love it, Valley!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I really enjoyed your choices of music! I'm watching The Voice now and a guy just performed Katy Perry, he lost. He should have went for a more manly song. Anyway...great hub with excellent tips!!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      14 years, I might be a little prejudice. Both my kids play the piano and clarinet.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Ruchira...yes, it should be what we breathe everyday!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks so much for sharing and the link up, Martie!! Awesome and yes, music is so beneficial!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Marilyn! Music benefits us all!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Linda. Whoa, looks like he should've! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Cool, Martin!! After my own heart!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

      Michelle, what an interesting article! When I used to read to my daughter at bedtimes when she was a tot, I used to sing the words sometimes, especially in books with little rhymes, she used to loved it and push the books towards me through the day as well - she is now a wonderful singer herself (unlike me, I can carry a tune but that's about it). I always encouraged music to her, though some of the early 'percussion' stuff was a bit of a headache (literally!)

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Wonderful article! The musician and former piano teacher in me just loved it. Music awareness is so enriching on so many levels and you touched on all of them.

      "Stomp" is awesome---great suggestion.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      She's certainly got the love of music through you!! Thanks for sharing...and oh yes, too much percussion gives me a gross headache too!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Lurana......music's great...in more ways than one!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      What an informative and well documented hub - enjoyed reading it - although my children are grown now I know they greatly benefited from music in their lives. Meaningful for adults also - thanks voting up and awesome.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Travmaj! Music definitely benefits us all!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Being a musician, this hub holds a special place for me Michelle! Beautifully done!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Audrey! Glad to connect with a fellow musician and poet!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

      Michelle,

      this is very useful and informative hub. My sister is raising kids, and she needs to know what kind of music will be appropriate for her children.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Vinaya,

      Thank you very much. I hope this will be useful for your sister.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 3 years ago

      As always Michelle I love your hub presentations on music and related subjects , so says the master musicologist himself, the epi-man, lol.

      It's important to hand down from generation to generation what you have discussed here because often our past and present is their future.

      Wasn't there a good movie about this topic called Mr. Holland's opus starring Richard Dreyfuss.

      I got turned onto classical music through my friend Stanley.

      Stanley Kubrick, lol, and his film , A Clockwork Orange.

      Love your passion and intellect here as always and it's a true labor of love

      I can tell.

      Sending you warm wishes from Colin and his cats at 4:50am and I always start my day with classical music (preferably light) - and no Led Zeppelin before 12 noon, lol

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      I loved RIchard Dreyfuss in that show! What you say is true, Epi, that the present is the future of the young ones. So our legacy must be passed on to them with care, including music! Thanks for sharing...in spite of it being so late for you!

    • tpuss profile image

      tpuss 3 years ago

      Learning music is great exercise for the brain.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes it is! Thanks for the comment, TPuss!

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