Music is a thing children want to create from their earliest years. Children love rhythm, as any parent can attest to after a pre-schooler discovers that noise can be made by banging on a pot or a pan in the kitchen. Children love harmony and love to sing along to what they hear over the radio or on television. Children love musical instruments because they want to imitate what they see adults doing and because they see they can create their own music through their own efforts.
Part of the joy of music for a child is the creation of something that is solely theirs. In addition, learning how to play music not only improves general manual dexterity, but also helps to tune a child’s sense of hearing and to develop better hand and eye coordination. A child discovers they can create sound and, alng the way, learns some basic principles of science. Fine motor skills are enhanced and a lifelong interest in music in general grows, as well as a specific interest in a particular instrument.
Percussion instruments are the most popular and the simplest to use for the youngest child. Tambourines, cymbals, maracas and castanets are smaller alternatives to full-blown drums sets. Chimes and xylophones provide a more pleasant percussive sound. Child-size versions of horns, trumpets and bugles are next, once a child begins to develop enough breath to blow.
Once the child moves beyond percussion and blowing instruments, there’s a choice of whether to go the electronic route or the instrument route. Child-size versions of stringed instruments and keyboards let you and your child decide whether or not to proceed to the beginnings of a musical education.
Electronic music toys come in two general sub-categories. First are the ones that are the direct equivalent to the electronic music played by today’s musicians. These types should be considered more of a direct growth into a more advanced version of the same instrument. The second sub-category contains the electronic versions of other instruments. You can get guitars with no strings and drums with no drum heads that generate sounds by electronic means. Strum the guitar with your fingers in the correct positions and you get notes and chords; tap the picture of a drum and get that drum’s signature sound.
Singing is the other side of the musical world that a child will love to explore. There are many sing-along toys for all ages, with the ones for the older child sold as karaoke sets. Most are themed after popular singers and shows. A microphone lets the child pretend to be a world-class singer. Other children with musical toys and child-size instruments can join in. You may discover the next Top of the Pops band! Even if that possibility doesn’t ever happen, playing music together helps children to grow and develop socially.