By John Hart
These days, many parents see the value of introducing their young children to music, but are unsure of when or how to begin. Here are some of the musical experiences my wife and I have had with our children.
Meg and I sang to each of our children while they were still in the womb and kept music playing during the entire birth process. (By the way--research shows that a baby can begin to hear some sounds at 16 weeks, and will turn the head in response to sounds at 24 weeks.) As our children were growing up, we sang a lot of nursery rhymes and praise songs to them, and we also recited Scripture from the Bible. Every night while tucking in our daughter, Laura, we would quote in her hearing the 23rd Psalm. One night, just after she had turned 2 years old, she started reciting it all on her own! (Thirty years later, we still have the recording of this event.) Our daughters Laura and Emily are now married and have their own little boys. They are singing to them the same songs that we sang!
As our children were growing up, Meg would make up a little song for each of our children about their name. We would sing these songs to them every day, especially before bed. Now they are all grown adults with happy memories of these songs. Our son, Owen, recently told us that his song meant a lot to him, and helped him stay on course in his life. There was also a lot of piano playing in the Hart household. I would often play the piano while our kids were going to bed. They have fond memories of lying on their beds enjoying the music and going to sleep. These happy memories led to music instruction for each of our children. In every case, they came to me asking for it. Some learned enough to be able to play some tunes on their own, while two of our daughters learned enough to be able to regularly play piano for church services! In my next blog, I’ll discuss other practical ways of introducing children to music.