music-helps-toMost of us are aware that music and singing in a choir helps young people with academics and to build strong social skills. But did you know that music is an integral part of how very young children learn language? In addition to language development, toddlers and babies can use music to learn how to move their bodies to dance, and bring them closer to their parents and family! Amy Standridge, Instructor for Music Together with CCSA, explains the value of music and why it’s an important part of growing up.

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Babies and young children learn to speak their native language by listening to speakers around them, learning sounds, and practicing combining those sounds into words, phrases and sentences. Through Music Together with CCSA classes, very young children learn music in the same way, not only reaping musical benefits but movement, socialization, and speech benefits as well. Rich and varied song collections provide a complement for language development during early childhood.

Music Together with CCSA song collections include a number of “songs without words.” By taking language out of these songs, children are able to more fully engage in the other fun components of music making such as melody, harmony, and rhythm, without getting caught up with processing the lyrics.

Baby Music ClassFor example, in the current Tambourine Collection, the words to the upbeat traveling song “Ride-O” start out with the syllable “doo,” and then progress to “dee.” It’s fun! Not only children get caught up in song lyrics; songs without words can be refreshing and fun for adults, too! All participants, children and adults, come with different levels of musical experience and learn together at their own pace. Parents and caregivers are their child’s best models; children learn by observing and listening to the important grown-ups in their lives.

At home, learning can continue as parents sing nonsense syllables to any song they know, or make up different tunes. Experimenting with singing “la la la” to a favorite pop tune during the child’s bath time or while washing dishes is a great way to keep the fun going outside of class. Popular music regularly utilizes nonsense syllables (think the Beatles “Hey, Jude,” or One Direction “That’s What Makes You Beautiful”).

920x920Songs without words are an ideal way to reinforce an infant’s babbling by mimicking their vocalizations in song. This encourages babies to make even more sounds to practice communicating with others. This is also an age-appropriate and fun way to encourage a young child with a speech delay to experiment with new sounds. Songs without words are one component of the Music Together with CCSA repertoire that lend beautifully to making music a part of families’ everyday lives.

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Amy has a master’s degree in music therapy from Colorado State University and a master’s in music and human learning from The University of Texas at Austin. She has been at home with her three children for several years, occasionally working as a part-time music therapist for youth with special needs. She loves the sense of community music brings to people of all ages and ability levels, while at the same time powerfully addressing functional, non-musical goals. She attended and completed the Music Together teacher’s training program in December of 2013.