Why Natural Foundations in Music?
It doesn’t take long to discover—maybe skimming a few parenting magazines. Research has proven that exposure to music at a young age is rather advantageous for children. Evidence has shown that music can enhance skills that children inevitably use in other areas of study. Music helps children, often simultaneously, draw from multiple skill sets. In a typical early childhood music class, a child may engage by listening, watching, analyzing, moving, and singing—all while using both fine and gross motor skills.
It’s no wonder that a study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science, showed that children who participated in just nine months of music lessons demonstrated, on average, an IQ increase of 3 points higher than the other test groups. And a study published in 2007 by a University of Kansas professor of music education and music therapy, Christopher Johnson, concluded that students who attended elementary schools with superior music education programs scored 20 percent higher in math and 22 percent higher in English on standardized tests than schools with low-quality or non-existent music programs.
So we can all agree that music education, from an early age, is beneficial to our children’s cognitive and social development. But is it enough to just choose the pre-school music class that meets at the community center down the street? Maybe that class is fantastic! But start by asking a few questions… What are the goals of the curriculum being taught? Is it to cover pre-school music standards? Most programs do that. Is it to sing fun songs? Most programs do that. Will the class use instruments and puppets? Most likely. Many pre-school music classes are fun. Your child may leave singing and dancing. But maybe you want more for your child…
Again the question, why Natural Foundations in Music? As parents, we found ourselves saddened that the majority of children today have only heard classical music because it’s used in a commercial or movie. And many of the traditional folk songs that were part of every child’s repertoire a generation ago have been replaced with “popular” songs that likely don’t have lasting qualities. We wanted more for our children. We wanted them to hum classical music as they created a castle with building blocks. We wanted them to hear a classical piece and proclaim how much they love the sound of a particular instrument. We wanted to have season tickets for our entire family to the local symphony. And we wanted a way to connect with our children and as a family. So we developed this curriculum around the way we introduced our own children to music—surrounding them with music in such a natural way that became a second language. Investing and spending our free time by engaging together in music. Our goal in building this natural musical foundation with our sons was not to give them an academic edge, although it is a nice side-benefit. We wanted them to experience the transformation we had both experienced through our love of music. And we knew they would never truly value traditional or classical music unless they understood it. They needed a natural foundation in music to appreciate what they were hearing and learning. And by gaining this love, they have been transformed to renovate others. Dr. Shinichi Suzuki said it best, “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”
And even more important than becoming good citizens and developing beautiful hearts, we want our children to develop excellence in their music so they are equipped to offer those gifts back to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as a sign of gratitude for His unending Grace. Our hearts’ cry is that with these gifts they will proclaim, “I will make music to You among the nations because your faithful love is as high as the heavens.” (Psalm 57:9)