Using music to educate

It’s summer and many parents wonder how to keep their children engaged in learning during the school break. One answer is simple and fun – Music! This week’s Friend with *Finesse is a music teacher, musician, wife, mother, grandmother to Sienna (7), Hannah (5), Marissa (3), Jacob (almost 3) and Micah (1 ½), and my sister, Nancy Ridgeway.

Q: Why is it important for children to appreciate music?

A: Music is a universal language that relates to all subject matter, including math, science, literature, dance and visual art. For example, rhythm relates to math as each note has a value and assists children in addition, subtraction and even fractions. Additionally, some studies have shown that music may build connections between the right and left brain.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about music education?

A: Many people believe music is a frill, and although some students may learn to appreciate music, it’s not a necessary part of the education or development of children. However, music engages children in subject matter they may otherwise find difficult or uninteresting. While students may not be interested in history, they many times are receptive to songs about history. I created an entire program on the three branches of government, which included songs like The Ride of Paul Revere. I doubt any of those students will forget that musical history lesson. While I haven’t used it in the classroom, Schoolhouse Rock is an example of using music to learn concepts in various subjects.

Q: What are your top three tips parents (or grandparents) can use to enhance their children’s musical appreciation?


1) Summer is a great time to take your children to concerts in the park or parades that include marching bands.
2) Purchase music you can listen to and sing with your children.
3) A small set of rhythm instruments should be included in toddlers toys. They will naturally make a drum out of anything available, so why not introduce them to the real thing!

My musical finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert   

What’s your musical finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)