Ruth Hamilton was born in 1898 and died in 2008. Over her long life she was a teacher, wife, mother, business woman, radio talk-show host, legislator and world traveller. Ruth’s acvice: “No matter what your age, keep learning. Put this motto on your mirror so that you’ll see it: Every day without learning something is a day lost.” (Enkelis, 2000, p.95)
Ruth words are dear to my heart. When she says, “no matter what your age” I interpret it as “No matter how young”.
When my children were very little I felt a strong compulsion to share as much as I could with them at as early an age as possible. I knew that they would one day go to kindergarten and school and then possibly university or college. Somehow this knowledge of their future education was not enough for me. I believed that “teaching” a new born baby is a pure privilege…a task not to be taken lightly. How much of their future lives lies in our hands!
I felt that the time I spent at home with each one of them needed to be viewed as learning opportunities. This concept was something I could not let go of. I found it very rewarding to just sit and play but I also liked to engage my babies to a greater depth. As they grew older this continued. For instance: if we were playing with blocks, we described the shape and colour, texture and size of the blocks. Besides the normal “pile and tile” we pretended the blocks were something else, like a train, or a bus. Of course we had lots of other fun in between just stacking and knocking down the block towers as well as free play. I let them lead. Whatever they were interested in I just increased the learning around that object or activity, avoiding forcing them to look and listen.
Many studies have been done on the value of teaching children music. Young children who learn music at an early age may be at an advantage when starting school as they have already grasped so many basic learning concepts.
The ability to focus, listen, copy, respond, memorise, create, imagine and other beneficial basic life skills are taught with purpose to a music student. Taking turns, waiting, asking questions appropriately and working in groups are beneficial social skills, learnt in music class.
Musical children quickly learn to know left from right and many other opposites such as up/down, fast/slow, high/low, loud/soft, in/out. Let’s not forget the introduction of Latin words for musical instructions as well.
“Understanding language is important in order for a child to communicate successfully with others. In order for a child to use words and concepts in their vocabulary they first need to understand them. Understanding the concept of opposites is important as it helps a child to learn how to compare two different things and to develop a more concrete understanding of a specific concept (e.g. hard vs soft). Learning opposites also improves a child’s ability to describe things.”
The wonderful aspect of learning music is that these concepts are introduced and understood through what is basically play. It may be easier to understanding concepts when they are put into use regularly, for instance weekly at music lesson and during practise at home.