The Tuneables is an award-winning children's music education DVD and CD series designed to teach the key building blocks of music at a critical time in a child's development.  Sponsored by the Music Intelligence Project, this fun, interactive program engages children in songs and activities that provide a foundation of music understanding and growth in intellectual development. Ages 3-8.

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To help prepare your child for active music instruction and learning, play recordings of music by Mozart and others as a background for other activities and rest time when the child is very young.

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The Early Stages of Music Learning

The foundation of a young child's music learning is built on aural (hearing) experiences. These learning experiences progress in three stages: 1. stimulus, 2. recall, and 3. discrimination. Parents and teachers should be aware of these important music learning stages. For any one of them to be missing or partially included reduces the child's learning opportunities and the potential for future musical growth.

1. Aural Stimulus (sensing musical sound in the air)

Music learning begins as early as birth when young children use their aural (auditory) sense to hear and react to musical experiences around them. For young children, this sensory input occurs at a time of very rapid growth in mental functioning and stimulates the formation of the neural structures or pathways eventually needed to process and understand music. Exposure to music listening throughout early childhood enhances this development, and the richness of the young child's musical sound environment influences the strength and amount of neural pathways associated with music learning. Therefore, parents should provide regular and frequent opportunities for quality music listening (see blog: Why Should Young Children Listen to Mozart's Music?). All future music learning depends on this aural stimulus foundation.

2. Aural Recall  (sensing musical sound in the mind)

The next stage of music learning is to recall musical sound events. Recall may be either short-term or long-term. For example, short-term recall occurs when a child hears a musical pattern or melody and imitates it immediately. Long-term recall occurs when a child spontaneously performs a musical pattern or melody without an immediate prompt or model. For either type of recall, the musical sound is not physically presented, but it is "heard" (sensed) in the mind. Recall is a learned skill and can be developed through such short-term strategies as parent or teacher demonstration/child imitation, and call-and-response songs, and such long-term strategies as "name-that-tune" game, and asking children to sing their favorite song. Skill in aural recall is the first observable evidence that a child is learning music. Any child not successful engaging in recall activities should continue with aural stimulus activities until readiness is achieved.

3. Aural Discrimination (sensing musical sounds as the same or different)

Memory or recall of musical events makes possible aural discrimination, i.e. knowing when two musical events (e.g. patterns) sound the same or different. For example, children may engage in discrimination learning when listening to the two tonal patterns, Do-Mi-Sol and Do-Re-Mi. A child functioning at an early stage of discrimination learning skill will compare the two patterns by means of aural recall and determine that they are different. Learning activities for aural discrimination include games that children detect or perform pairs of same and different patterns, or children detect that changes have been made in familiar songs. Any child unable to determine sameness or differences in musical sound events could benefit from continued short-term and long-term aural learning activities until a readiness for aural discrimination is achieved. This is a crucial step, because all advanced music learning involves aural discrimination.

A carefully sequenced program of music learning for young children, such as The Tuneables, develops each of these stages of aural sense. This is an important consideration by parents and teachers when choosing a music education program for young children.

For more information about The Tuneables go to:

Posted by Robert E. Johnson on 14 August 2011

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