Music and the Child

Elsie Landon Buck

Just as a child learns to speak the language he or she hears at home, a child becomes attuned to the music he or she hears at home. The presence of a child in the home brings much responsibility to parents in the training of that child's spiritual, intellectual and physical personality. Parents need not be musicians to implant a love for good music in their child(ren). Listening to high-quality music is the core of any music education program.

Several renowned music educators of this century have stressed that all people can become musically literate just as they become language literate. Zoltan Kodaly developed in the Hungarian schools a comprehensive approach to music education involving folk songs and serious art music.

In Japan Dr. Shinichi Suzuki spent his lifetime demonstrating immersion in a musical home environment develops an equal fluency in music. Musical immersion during the pre-school years allows a child to learn pieces first by imitation. This acquired knowledge can be followed by group lessons, which then lead to fluency in reading and performing music.

Other methods have become mainstream, and in all of them the end result is the same: to develop well-rounded, music-loving and music-proficient girls and boys, who will grow into further stages of music development and proficiency.

The common principles adopted by reading music educators give us Important points to consider:

1. Children should have music experiences as young as possible. All people can become musically literate. Talent is not what matters.

2. Music experience precedes music reading. Inner hearing of what one is to play, for instance, should precede the actual playing of the piece.

3. Children should hear the highest quality of music within their own culture, as well as serious art music.

4. Children should experience ensemble music as well as individual performances. In doing so, an attitude of cooperation, team work, concentration and self-discipline is encouraged.

5. The music experience is a process, the goal being a total well-being of the student, leading to a life-time of music making and enjoyment.

Those who greatly affect a child's musical development are parents, music teachers, the school, church and community. How can each one help a child's musical growth?


Every parent needs to oversee the direction of their child's musical progress. From the very beginning. of that child's life, a parent needs vision, dedication, patience, encouragement, and a heart filled with loving commitment for the child's good.

Music Teachers

Good music teachers love children. They, in addition to high achievement in their own education and work, should know how to inspire and encourage a child from lesson to lesson. The piano is considered a basic instrument for learning. A good music teacher makes all the difference in a child's attitude toward practice and further involvement with music. Confidence and respect work both ways.


Separate music classes in elementary school, taught by a good music teacher, are ideal. A classroom teacher who encourages students to perform for the class when a student has mastered a certain piece, is helpful to the child and class in musical growth and appreciation.


Sabbath school songs are important for spiritual growth. More is needed, however, to familiarize children with Church hymns. During worship, you have probably heard a child singing Jesus Loves Me with full voice while the adults sing the selected hymn. Children want to participate but do not know our adult songs.

Why not make the worship hour a time of joy and praise for all by printing the next week's hymn numbers in the bulletin? This would give parents an opportunity to teach these hymns to their child(ren) at home during the week. Churches should also develop children's choirs, and allow these choirs to participate in the church services.


Live performances by artists, or choral and instrumental ensembles, further a child's appreciation and knowledge of music. Being part of an audience adds to the child's musical enrichment.

Music in childhood is every child's right. A caring home, school and church, with parents, teachers and pastors who show love and commitment will help make children a blessing to the world.

This article, first published in the Lake Union Herald, was reprinted in the Autumn 1996 issue of Notes