Little kids love to make noise. Even in their first year, they learn to run any new object through a battery of tapping, shaking and banging tests, trying to decipher how many different ways it can make sound, only to repeat, and repeat, whichever way is most pleasing to them. If you are like us, music plays all day long in your home, and a box of instruments, some store-bought and some homemade, is almost perpetually out and in play. Kids love to jam, and, not-so-secretly, so do their parents. This joyful compulsion to create sound means more than that we are simply noisy creatures. Making music is part of the human experience. And it turns out that both enjoying and making music are brain-boosting activities that research shows help kids develop socially, emotionally and cognitively.
To initiate this activity, take the indoor music making habit to the great wide open, where you can really get down. Bring a few helpful instrument-inspiring materials but gather most (if not all) that you need from mother nature. Then, you and the kids start making sounds—it pretty much flows from there. Make as many different sounds as you can and let kids just keep making them too. Make up a new rhythm or even a melody. Be as loud as you like. Celebrate each and every new sound or just keep making more.
When you are in the midst of this activity, especially if you add in some live music, singing, dancing or parading about, you simply feel how joyful making music is for little kids—it’s moving to both body and soul. You’ll likely find yourself hoping that your kids never lose the ability to bang, shake, march or dance with such abandon. When you, old adult, make music and move along with them, you make that wish more possible.
As if this joy were not enough of a benefit, listening for and making sounds are powerful ways to encourage sensory development. Allowing kids to simply play with sound and discover sounds in their own way offers a real chance to develop creativity and problem solving skills. Being musical is also tied to brain development and even success in school. Research shows that participation in music, especially at an early age, can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating parts of the brain that are related to memory, language, patterns and emotional development. All of this may explain why participation in musical activities is such a predictor of success in school, college and beyond.