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Why music matters when you’re raising a child

Prin Dumas loves music. Her husband, a former DJ, does too.
The two have used their passion for music to teach their children about their family history, to understand their parents’ lives better and to help them become more educated, according to Dumas’ recent article for NJ.com.
“Music is fun, but music is also difficult to learn,” Dumas wrote in the article. “It’s important to balance music education at home by integrating music as an enjoyable part of daily life. In my opinion, it makes children more curious and eager to learn music.”
Dumas and her husband play their wedding songs to help their children see into their parents’ past, use songs to help their children learn about certain life situation and tell their children stories based on songs they hear. They even make their own original music with their kids.
“For me, music is like air. I don’t expect my daughters to become musicians, but they both genuinely love music,” Dumas wrote. “That makes me happy and, I hope, helps them relate to what I do for a living.”
Dumas and her husband have research on their side when it comes to using music to help children learn. For example, sad music can motivate people. A study published last December by PLOS One found that people will more often listen to sad music during a breakup or traumatic experience because it makes listeners feel sad without real-life implications, which inspires them to move past their real-life traumas.
Music can help in the classroom, too. A 1993 study found that children who listen to Mozart learned how to read better because of the music’s calming sound waves that relax the brain and make it more likely to learn.
More recently, The Washington Post reported on a study that found lyrical music and music education classes helped children achieve better literacy skills than those who did not listen to music.
“Language does have a musical aspect to it, referred to as prosody,” Valerie Strauss wrote for the Post. “And indeed, children’s ability to appreciate the rhythmic aspect of speech is correlated with the ease with which they learn to read, even when controlling for phonemic awareness.”
It’s also helpful to learn how to play music. Eric Schulzke of the Deseret News reported on a study out of the University of Vermont that found music lessons can make children smarter and make them better at controlling their emotions. Using brain scans, the researchers also found that music can improve memory and one’s long-term planning capabilities.
This happens because music can thicken the cortex, which has been known to influence ones behavior. A thicker cortex can lead to less aggression, better emotional control and increased ability to manage attention issues, Schulzke reported.
So what can parents do to help their child gain the benefits from music? Dumas suggested in her piece for NJ.com that families install radios in every room in the house so that children can always hear a song. She also suggests parents buy their children music and always bring music on family vacations and outings.
“Show children that you enjoy music and music will become an integral part of your parenting. It will also happen effortlessly,” Dumas wrote. “Once they love it, you won’t need to do anything. They’ll bring the music into your home, and hopefully it will sound pretty good!”

By Herb Scribner, www.national.deseretnews.com, www.msidallas.com