LOS ANGELES — As the school year approaches, it’s time to take stock of where you’re at.
With each passing day, you may be wondering how much music you can actually listen to during your own day to ensure you’re still learning what you’re supposed to be doing.
But a new study suggests you might be listening too much.
“We looked at music for kids, and there were more music lessons in elementary schools, but kids didn’t listen more,” said Dr. Lisa Boudreau, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder who conducted the study.
“So we thought, ‘Why are we having to do this, because we have to do it in this environment?’
So we looked at the data, and we discovered that kids in elementary school who were doing music for the first time had more positive feelings toward their teachers and their teachers’ ability to support their children.”
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, found that music-learning experiences were linked to a stronger sense of belonging.
“If kids are getting that first taste of music, they’re more likely to feel a sense of community, more likely be more connected to others,” said Boudrieres co-author Jennifer LeBlanc.
“When kids are playing music, it is associated with the feeling of belonging,” she said.
“So if you have an environment where kids are learning how to do something, there’s a heightened sense of connection between them and their peers.”
So how do we teach our kids to do music so that it feels safe and appropriate for them?
The answer, as it turns out, can be as simple as a new way to make music more fun.
It’s not that we don’t need music, or even that we need music in a positive way, said Baudreau.
The research shows that when we create a positive environment, music-loving kids will be more likely than others to stick with it.
“You don’t want kids who are just getting into music to be confused by it, so they’re not going to play music in an environment that is negative or that is too serious,” said LeBlanche.
“The important thing is to get them to feel safe in that environment,” she continued.
So how can we make music fun, and not just a chore?
Boudreaux suggested teaching kids that when they get to the stage, the goal is to let the music just be the music. “You don�t want to tell them, ‘This is your job to do, you’re going to do the work,'” she said, “so they can relax, have fun.”
So why is that important?
LeBlanch suggested that the music is a tool for the audience to engage with the storyteller and the characters.
“In other words, you want to let kids be a part of the story, to feel like they’re a part or a part-time part of it,” she explained.
So that’s the plan.
What else can we do?
LeBanc said that the best way to get kids to play is to start by asking them to talk about the music first.
Then, if the kid is able to do that, you can move on to more serious subjects like story telling and story-telling skills.
“As a parent, I think you have to ask, ‘What does the kid want to know about music?’
And if it’s something that’s in the story that you can play in the background, then you can do that,” said Gwen Dziczek, director of music and culture for the Los Angeles County Fair.
“If it’s more of a serious topic, then the conversation about that should be more in the foreground.”
And you can start teaching children how to dance, too, Boudrea said.
“It�s an art form, so you can use music to help the child dance.”
So is music fun?
And how does it help kids become better parents?
“We can’t be content with teaching kids how to sing,” said Dzicek.
“They have to know how to play.”
So, if you’re a parent and you want your kids to be better parents, you need to teach them how to make their own music.
You can find out more about this research at the Journal, where it was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Arts.