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Listening Habits Begin at Birth

baby making sounds on a piano: listening habits begin at birth

When your child listens to the complex, patterned sounds that we call music, it stands to reason that they’re increasing their brain power. Each child enters the world like a sponge – ready and eager to soak up everything they can. For hearing children, listening is one of the key ways of getting information. It’s up to the adults to make those listening experiences count.

A whole juvenile products industry has been built around the research into the "Mozart Effect" or the study of how listening to classical music can make kids smarter. But, as most reasonable parents know, all kinds of music – and storytelling – provide a great way to increase a child’s auditory intelligence.

As they learn to identify a piece of music, pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and tempo, all have to be ordered in a very specific way for these sounds to be identified as a particular musical work. A single note out of sequence can make a tune unrecognizable or turn it into a different melody. Highly structured music helps children recognize patterns, and increase their spatial-temporal reasoning ability. By providing musical experiences early on, you’re actually helping to hard-wire creative firings among more parts of the brain. All of the research shows this really helps children academically later on.

​Amid all of the gimmicky products designed to capitalize on the early childhood research, there are many easy and time-tested ways that parents can encourage good listening skills in their young children. As children learn to be careful listeners, they may also develop a genuine love and appreciation for music they can enjoy for a lifetime. The process is fun for parents, too! 

Bonnie Ward Simon

Bonnie Ward Simon, BA, MA, M.Ed, M.Phil.,

President of Maestro Classics

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