Music is a language, so the more music your child hears, the more musically “fluent” your child will become. Parents spend much more time with their children than their music teachers, so it is imperative that parents who want to raise musical kids create a musically rich environment for their child.
When you play the recording of music that your child will eventually play on their instrument, you help them grow fond of music and instill a deeper capacity to hear, absorb, and memorize music. This also results in kids developing a broader vocabulary for their musical development. It is just like language development. Studies have shown that kids who hear more words spoken during their childhood end up having a greater vocabulary, plus a host of other benefits. The same thing happens with music. When children repeatedly hear music, they have a bigger storehouse of music in their brains. Furthermore, the more a child listens to the songs they will be playing, the more they can hear those songs internally. And when they hear a song internally, they are able to find the correct notes to that song on their instrument. This results in learning songs more quickly, greater confidence in playing, and more motivation to practice. Listening to music repeatedly also creates familiarity. Children like things that are familiar and love to imitate, so if they hear the same music over and over again, they will want to copy it.
Since I am a Suzuki piano teacher, I tell the parents in my studio that their homework is to put on the Suzuki recording. If your child is not taking Suzuki lessons, they can still benefit greatly when you put on the recording of their repertoire. Simply follow these instructions and watch the magic unfold.
Here are the guidelines for putting on the recording:
1. Play it every day. The more your child hears the music, the more they will absorb those particular sounds. When you play that music every day, it becomes a part of your child’s life.
2. Play the actual Suzuki recording. If you are a musician and can play it on the instrument for your child, that is certainly a bonus. However, that does not replace the official recording, which is the model for your child. The recording features a professional musician who has shaped the music in a particular way, with particular dynamics, tone, tempo, and articulation (these are just fancy music words that mean a skilled person performs the music at a very high level). As your child advances, it will be important to listen to a variety of recordings, but for the beginning student, simply play the official recording. I discourage using YouTube to listen to the recordings because those are bootleg copies, and if they are not bootleg copies, they are not the official recordings.
3. Play the recording from beginning to end. Get your child used to hearing the entire recording so that they can hear all the pieces repeated. This means your child will learn their pieces more quickly because they will be hearing the pieces they are currently playing along with the pieces they will be playing in the next weeks or months. Playing the recording in this order also prepares the student for playing the entire book. It’s like seeing the entire landscape and thus understanding all the hills and valleys that will be in their musical journey.
4. Play the recording in the background. There is no need to bring your child’s attention to the music of the recording. Simply play it in the background and your child will absorb it.
5. Put the recording on repeat. Playing the entire recording several times a day will help your child absorb the music more quickly and more deeply. I students to listen to the recording at least 2 hours a day.
6. Play the recording everywhere. Playing the recording does not have to be limited to your house. You can play the recording in the car during long or short trips and pretty much anywhere you take your phone. Play the music at the beach or at a grandparent’s house. For a lot of kids, these recordings become a part of them and they feel good when they hear it played.
7. Play the recording to accompany routines. Children love routines, so put on the recording as a part of their daily routine. You can put on the recording when during mealtimes, waking up, play times, clean-up time, homework, or bedtime.
8. Don’t disparage the recording. I can understand that listening to the same thing over and over again is not everyone’s cup of tea. But if your child hears you talking about how you don’t like the recording or that you are bored of listening to the recording, that will lead your child to become frustrated by listening to it. Simply put on the recording in the background so that it’s like wallpaper. If you don’t like the recording, the best thing to do is play the recording for your child while they are doing an activity without you, and leave the room. Also, if you don’t like the recording, that’s why it’s even more important to put on the recording. The more your child hears the recording, the faster they will progress–with practice, of course–and the faster they will be on their next book.
Tips for buying the recording. As I am writing this, the easiest way to find the recording is to go to Alfred Music Suzuki Recordings. You can also look for the recording in iTunes and Amazon Music, but those may not give you the exact ones your teacher recommends. Please note that iTunes is different from Apple Music, so if you have an iPhone or iOS device, go to iTunes, not Apple Music.
Supporting your child’s musical development is actually quite easy, because all you have to do is press a button. The more you saturate your child’s environment with music, the easier it will be for your child to make music. Just press play!