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Singing in the car can make kids music smart

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Kids love to sing. Riding in the car is a great time to introduce and reinforce music awareness and enjoyment through singing. Researchers have found that singing in the car, whether on key or not, might be the ideal place to develop children’s awareness and interest in music.

The findings, published in the Journal of Research in Music Education, revealed how the family car could provide an opportunity for parents who may lack the time and resources for music lessons. Parents can take advantage of the daily commute in the car to model singing to their children while also teaching the basics of rhythm.

In order to investigate the family car as a musical space, the lead research recruited five families with nine children combined. Over the course of nine weeks, parents were instructed to incorporate musical activities – such as singing, listening to music and humming – into their daily commutes with their children.

The children were between the ages of 10 months and 4.5 years at the time of the study. The children were also allowed to listen to music on their electronic devices if they desired. However, parents were encouraged to turn off their electronic devices in order to listen and sing with their children.

Parents were asked to keep a journal of car-time music activities noting the types of music children liked, how they interacted with the music and additional behaviors during the drives. Additionally, parents were given an exit-interview at the end of the study.

The results showed the family car time helped parents listen more attentively to their children and play musical games. Furthermore, parents observed a similar effect with the way in which siblings interacted in singing and playing musical games together.

“Providing children with a rich musical environment and expecting them to be musical ensures that children can experience music and find their musical voices during childhood and for years to come,” researchers explain.

Early musical experiences can benefit children’s later academic and creative skills. Learning music can sharpen the use of children’s ears, eyes and muscles for moving. Furthermore, musical education at a young age can equip children with the foundational abilities to learn and develop greater cognitive skills.

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