Are Baby Music Classes REALLY Worth it? Is my child too young for baby music class and am I going to just throw away a lot of money.
To answer this question I asked a friend of mine who teaches a successful baby music class and a mom of four. She could observe the benefits of baby music classes for her own kids swell a for the families she worked with. Here is what she shared.
Are baby music classes really worth it? I’ve been trying to answer that question as long as I’ve been teaching Early Childhood music, yet every time I have sat down to justify why baby music classes were so important, I felt sick. Something was wrong. Something was missing. So I started looking at my life and the lives of my precious babies (my own and my students’) with the question: are baby music classes really worth it? Here’s what I found.
*note: I refer to the caretaker as “mom” for simplicity, but it can refer to any care giver.
1- The research rings true both on paper and in my class. Babies who participate in interactive music classes are more musically aware, have more developed fine and gross motor skills, social skills and communication skills. In my class I’ve seen 6-month olds move their legs to the changing beat; 18-month olds sing a song they wrote while accompanying themselves on a xylophone in pitch; I’ve seen my own 3 year old, who has a speech disorder, recite 45 minutes worth of class from memory! The research is true: baby music classes do increase your child’s abilities.
2- Research also shows the ability for musical aptitude settles around age 9 and that the early years are crucial to the development of a child’s potential for comprehending and producing music.
Those two points are what my colleagues (whom I love) are quick to point out when parents are contemplating baby music classes. But here is the basis for my unconventional opinions of baby music classes:
3- Experts attest that the most important relationship for a baby to develop is with their parent. Professionals confirm that the most effective teacher for babies and toddlers are their parents.
4- Finally, Maslow reminds us that there is an entire foundation that has to be in place before learning can occur. Children need to be taken care of, feel safe and loved before they can absorb musical skills.
So what does that all mean? Are baby music classes worth it or not? As a mom first and ECE music teacher second, this is what I say.
Yes, babies who were in an interactive baby music class did have higher musical abilities, fine and gross motor skills, social skills and communication skills than a control group BUT closer study of how the research was conducted shows that the families involved in that interactive music class were required to listen to a CD of music from the class every day at home and do every activity in class every day at home.
They were doing music at home every day and as a result had higher abilities, and they also were taking a baby music class. Remember point 3 and 4? Their moms in a safe, loving environment, were teaching their babies and as a result their babies had higher abilities than the control group. It wasn’t the class that produced higher abilities; it was the activities the moms were doing at home (that they learned in class) that produced higher abilities.
Now point #2, concerning your worry that if you don’t put your child into music now they will never achieve their full musical potential — breathe. Yes, Mozart was exposed to music since the womb but 1) you’re child doesn’t need to be Mozart. Amadeus needed to become Amadeus, but Johnny needs to become Johnny. 2) you will have plenty of time to “catch up” on their musical development when you and they are ready.
So what am I trying to say? Are baby music classes worth it or not?
I’m saying take some time to be a mom! Sing songs, read books, dance, play — that is the basis of any baby music class. All those things can be done in your own home AND your child will retain more when you do it in your own home than when you do it in a classroom. Do all those things to establish that protective, safe, loving relationship that a baby needs. That environment and relationship is the basis for a healthy, fulfilling life and for a musical foundation.
Then IF you are doing all that and you feel that you are ready to add something more, THEN enroll you and your child in a baby music class, preferably with people you enjoy spending time with. The best music classes I’ve taught are when it’s a group of friends taking the class together. Suddenly it’s not just a music class; it’s a social outlet for moms, where they can learn techniques to be better parents at home.
But if you feel overwhelmed or compelled to get to class then STOP TORTURING YOURSELF. Your beautiful baby is not going to learn anything while you are feeling stressed, because they will not have the foundation needed for acquisition of knowledge. Do things you enjoy doing with them, not something you feel pressured to do with them.
So relax and breathe. You are a good mom whether or not you take your baby to music classes. Continue to do what you feel is best for you and your baby and your baby is going to do wonders with his or her life – independent of the classes you sign them up for in utero.
Keep calm, and be a mom.