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Availability of Music Education Lags, Despite Knowledge of Its Benefits

More than half of U.S. children and adults have never received music education, though a majority (68 percent) thinks it's important, says a 2011 IBOPE Zogby poll commissioned by Primrose Schools. Over 70 percent of adults recognize that music education enhances children's music appreciation, cognitive development and creativity. Over the past 15 years, however, many school music programs have been cut to reduce budgets and to spend more time on math and reading instruction.

y-Clef"The results show a disconnect between what people know and believe about music and what they're actually doing about it," said Dr. Mary Zurn, vice president of education at Primrose Schools. "Although many parents and teachers are aware of the benefits and value of a solid music education, and research tells us it's more important than ever to start at a young age, music is rarely part of the daily schedule in most elementary schools."

Early, consistent exposure to music has been found to support musical ability, language development, motor coordination, social skills and learning. Poll results further support the link between music and academic achievement: 65 percent of adults with college degrees participated in music education, compared to 37 percent of adults without college degrees.

Poll results reveal that music is already an important part of family life: 86 percent of families enjoy listening to music, and 80 percent of children are most frequently exposed to music at home. Only a quarter of parents report using music to enhance learning, however.

"Children who grow up in an enriched music environment are better able to understand and enjoy music for the rest of their lives," said Rob Sayer, founder and director of The Music Class. "Children's brains are hard-wired for music; even babies can process rhythm.” 

For more fun, easy ways to add a brain boost to family music activities, Dr. Zurn and Sayer recommend the following:

Dance! Children naturally respond to music with movement, which is a natural way to learn about rhythm. Encourage your child to help choreograph a dance by incorporating their suggestions like jumping, leaping, sliding or galloping to the music. Provide a nurturing touch by holding, lifting and bouncing your child to the rhythm of the music to make dancing together a time of emotional bonding and also to stimulate neural pathways.

Sing! Music and language are so intertwined that singing songs is a natural way for children to build memory skills and learn new vocabulary. Repetition and rhyming are particularly helpful for heightening children's awareness of the sounds of language. Singing familiar songs gives kids a chance to practice sequencing words and phrases and can be done almost anywhere. Find out what songs your child is learning at school and watch his face light up when you sing along. Try carrying on a conversation by singing – children love it. Also, be sure to take advantage of your drive time to stimulate those noggins, given that more than 75 percent of children are most frequently exposed to music in the car. Music can make short and long car trips much more enjoyable!

Listen! Play music from your country of origin or your region of the United States. Then play music from other cultures or parts of the country. Help your child identify similarities and differences. Twenty-four percent of adults say music is an important part of their cultural heritage, and there's no better way to begin teaching your child about their own culture and that of others. Primrose's newly enhanced Rhythm and Notes curriculum with music from The Music Class features music from around the world that helps children develop an awareness and appreciation for other cultures.

Play! It's easy to gather simple instruments like pots and pans that children can use to keep time with music or count beats. If you record their productions, they will love hearing it over and over! Plus, those instrumental sessions can improve hand-eye coordination and spatial reasoning.

For more ideas to help your child learn through music and other parenting tips, visit

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