The Crier Landing Page >>
Live & Learn
By: Celeste & Dan Ezell | August 11, 2022
Recently, our 15-year-old chastised us for not making her play more sports when she was little. When she started high school last year, she complained, “I can’t join a sport now! Everyone else is so good! They’ve been playing since they were like four.” My only retort was “but you’ve done music that long.” Little consolation to her, but very true. And so good for her, too!
We started music “training” before the kids could talk. Nothing formal, music was simply part of play. We sang a song for nearly every transition. We made up songs to motivate them to eat, keep food out of their hair, clean up, potty, go to sleep, endure a long car ride and manage our own frustrations. Our repertoire has grown so elaborate that perhaps someday we will publish an album: Songs to Sing Through Clenched Teeth.
As babies imitate our speech to learn to talk, they copy our singing. I recently found a video of Violet learning to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with me at 15 months. Ten years earlier, when our oldest learned “Twinkle,” she often got stuck on “like a diamond in the sky…like a diamond in the sky,” and never actually reached the end of the song! We just joined in the broken record. Later she fortuitously fused two favorites:
Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O
And on that farm, he had a dog
And Bingo was his name-O B-I-N-G-O
Our second sang with conviction, “Bah bah black sheep wee wee wool” and “Baby bawuga.”
One day while quarantining at Grandma’s house, our three-year-old stated in a sing-song way, “I just ate my strawberries.” We joined in and created an elaborate four-part family rendition of her tune with fun variations. She got such a kick out of listening to the production, knowing she had started it. Moments of making music together have been some of the most precious, bonded times in our family.
Music has an incredible effect on a child’s development. Neuroscientists observe musical activities reward discipline with self-achievement and positive reinforcement. Rhythm specifically supports learning and development of executive functions that enhance reading and verbal memory. Singing, especially trained singing, leads to better second language pronunciation. Learning to play an instrument as a child may even predict academic performance and IQ in young adulthood. Importantly, music is something we do together, it increases communication, coordination, cooperation and even empathy. Music makes children more successful all around.
The key is to start young. For skills acquisition, timing is everything. Children grow up confident in their skills, comfortable performing, and more disciplined to practice. The earlier kids start singing and playing an instrument, the more opportunities they’ll have to play and sing later.
Consider adding a piano or keyboard to your home. Piano is an excellent introductory instrument because it’s laid out visually and is easy to play. And babies love it! Craigslist is full of free pianos for anyone willing to haul them. Take lessons, watch videos, and learn together.
Don’t despair if you don’t consider yourself a musician. Even if you think you don’t sing well, do it anyway! Surround your family with music videos, musician friends, musical instruments and a variety of concerts. Introduce them to the performers and ask them questions afterwards. Make music a part of every day.
While other families spent hours cheering for tee-ball and pee wee soccer, our kids got a generous investment in music classes, choirs, lessons, instrument rentals, symphony concerts, musicals, dance recitals and silly singing across the house. Now they’re true musicians! They sing acapella solos, carry harmonies in choir and pick up new instruments for orchestra. Music will always be a part of their lives. It’s in them.
Every August we plan out the year. We prepare pieces for auditions, negotiate time slots for lessons and carefully plan out our weekly schedule of rehearsals, lessons and carpools. Marin has incredible opportunities for children to learn music. As you make your plan this month, consider these resources. Feel free to email me for more recommendations! Have fun making music with your babies!
In Harmony Music, SMMC Community Partner
Music Time with Meagan, SMMC Community Partner
Sing Dance Play, SMMC Community Partner
Music Classes on SMMC Resource Guide
Age 5 & up
Marin Girls Chorus
San Francisco Boys Chorus
Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra
Marin Symphony Family Concert
San Francisco Symphony Music for Families Series
Marin Community Music School lessons
Magic Flute lessons
Music Teachers Association of California
Music Play: The Early Childhood Music Curriculum Guide for Parents, Teachers & Caregivers
Music For Little Mozarts piano lesson book
Mozart Magic Cube toy
Symphony in B musical toy
Chronos Academy music
Little Einsteins animated series
Hoffman Academy Online Piano Lessons
Joytunes: Simply Piano, Simply Guitar, Simply Sing
Yousician: Guitar, Bass, Piano, Ukulele, Singing
Celeste & Daniel Ezell are parents to three children who have attended, attend or soon will attend their accelerated K-8 Micro-school. They founded Chronos Academy to integrate all subjects to a timeline with creativity, music and making. You can reach Celeste by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chronos Academy at @chronoscohorts or learn more at chronos.academy