How Children Learn Music

We don’t talk about this enough and we should.

The idea that waiting until a child is 9 years old to begin their musical learning needs to vanish.  We live in a different world. Music learning has to be handled differently.

Fifty-five years ago families were still singing together at home,  parents still sung their childhood songs to their infants and religious congregations viewed singing together as a vital part of programming.

Nowadays we are not making music at home,  parents are shy about singing a simple lullaby  out loud and the music in most churches consists of loud repetitive sounds.  

But parents still want their young children to learn to be proficient at music. In one year of lessons.

Children Learn music the same way they learn language

The following steps are an example of what happens when learning language or music.  Every individual moves through these steps at a different pace.

  1. Listening (infants listen to family interactions, family sings together)
  2. Imitating (a few months later they begin to imitate sounds they hear)
  3. Repeating (sounds turn in to meaningful words, singing parts of songs)
  4. Creating (finally sentences! making up songs)
  5. Reading (elementary school, ready for learning to read notes)
  6. Writing (school continues,  composing music)

Imagine teaching someone to read (step 5) who has not moved through stages 1-4. It is quite difficult.  So why do we continue to allow it for music?

this is what happens in a piano lesson?

This is what should be happening in a preschool piano class!  But more importantly the understanding that children need to go through these steps before learning to play an instrument, is the mindset that needs to prevail.  

So is there hope for my 9 year old?

Yes! Your child may begin lessons at any age. However, now I hope you understand why it might take longer than you expected!

Family Music for Toddlers

playing resonator bars

Today we completed an awesome semester of music with toddlers!

Every Thursday morning ten little ones brought their grown ups into the studio for 30 minutes of nursery rhymes set to music.  We danced, we hopped,  we went this-a-way and that-a-way…all day long!   Well, even if the class was not all day long, I received reports of their singing at home. Wonderful!

Allee Galloo galloo

Each  week we confirmed the notion that “nursery rhymes lend themselves to musical activities because they are rich in rhythm, meter, inflection, and song.”*  Most importantly, though, the children and their adults had a delightful time clapping, tapping, jumping, skipping, and singing, the best way we know to build musicality!


*Musikgarten – All Together Now! Nimble & Quick, card 2

The 3 Best Music Programs for Homeschoolers


If you are looking for a music program in which to enroll in and can’t decide, here is a list just for you!

Even though the list is not comprehensive, it will give you a bird’s eye view of each and help you make a decision.

  1. Musikgarten – a music program that is based on understanding how children learn music and the best way to teach them.  In this program music is learned through the themes of home, nature and the world.  Your child’s music education with Musikgarten may begin when he/she is a newborn and continue up to age 10 with their last piano book.  Musikgarten follows a classical approach in its style by using a variety of instruments in superb musical arrangements (click and scroll down to hear a sample).  Yet at the same time the children’s creativity is carefully nurtured, even allowing them to improvise a 12-bar blues! This is definitely my favorite program!
  2. Music Together – strives to keep their classes focused on family and what families do together. Their songs are fun and lean more towards a folk style.  If you need a class where you can enroll several of your children at once, this is the one to try. You can also listen to their songs to get a better idea of the Music Together style.  The Music Together is non-sequential and each book or unit is characterized by its own instrument.
  3. Kindermusik – a very popular music program that also offers classes for all ages and even offers specialty classes to enhance language development and other cognitive skills. Listen to their music here.  I have not taught the new program, so all I can do is refer you to their website, but I have seen the joy this music class brings to my nephew and niece and their family!

Music and “reading readiness”

According to Dr. Dee Coulter, a renowned brain science educator, key pre-reading skills that researchers have identified as helpful for preparing children to read are the same as those supported in a good music class.

  • ability to hear and identify differences in pitch
  • ability to work with codes, such as linking musical tones with notes
  • familiarity with rhyming words (in poetry, lyrics, etc.)
  • ability to copy rhythms so they can hear the rhythmic structure of language
  • a rich vocabulary of regular and “rare” words; (a bigger vocabulary makes learning easier)
  • ability to focus attention on pictures and on the teacher’s voice, and to communicate well

In our Family Music for Babies and Toddlers class the children are involved in call and response songs and patterns, the earliest pre-reading activities in our program.  For those enrolled in Cycle of Seasons or Pre-piano reading readiness is continued with call and response activities, finger play games, nursery rhymes and body awareness songs.  All of these are activities that deepen the children’s connection between words and actions.

Enrolling in music lessons is not only for enrichment and enjoyment.  The benefits into other fields of learning are tremendous when the musical environment you have chosen is purposeful and allows your child the freedom to learn in a pleasant and non-threatening environment.

Call Dorla’s Piano Studio (817) 832-8578 today and schedule a free class so that you may experience the joy of music and learning!

adapted from Musikgarten Delivers! Partnering with Parents Set 2