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An obvious core element of any Kindermusik class is the Instrument Play. You will always find a delightful variety of simple instruments, usually percussion based. Percussion instruments are ideal for young children because they are so simple to play! They require tapping, shaking, or striking. It is the perfect type of instrument to start learning on because its most fundamental element is steady beat.
Young children do not have the ability to externalize a steady beat yet, so we give them lots of practice by rocking them, bouncing them, patting them, etc. Listening to music, and playing along with a caretaker gives them additional exposure to this crucial skill. Steady beat will help your child as they develop gross motor movements, such as walking, running, and jumping.
These steady beat through instrument play experiences provide what we call a “synchronous social movement”. It has been shown through research that synchronous movement bonds a group of people, signaling to the child that the people with whom they share this experience are part of their tribe and are safe. It is socialization that the baby’s brain inherently understands.
These percussion instruments also give your child fine motor development practice. It takes skill to grasp an instrument, shake an instrument, release an instrument, and more. It also develops their hand-eye coordination, which will in turn help them as they learn to write, use scissors, play ball, etc.
Other benefits of instrument play include learning the pro-social skills of turn taking, observation skills, and the ability to follow. These skills will help them be ready to be in a musical ensemble once they begin instruction on a primary instrument.
Additionally, instrument play is the perfect opportunity for the caregiver to practice their skill of scaffolding. When you scaffold with a child you observe the skill they are already demonstrating, you validate that skill by labeling it and copying it, and then you add upon that skill. When you show your child how to take what they can already do and add to it, taking it to the next level, you are giving them growth opportunities, creative problem solving skills, and chances to utilize their autonomy to come up with new and diverse ways to play with their instrument.
So much is happening developmentally when you and your little one shake those little egg shakers or tap your rhythm sticks. Plus, it’s FUN and JOYFUL and breeds CONNECTION. And with all that joy and connection comes dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin. And who doesn’t need more of that?