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How to encourage kids to love music

Music education can have a profound impact on children. According to PBS, research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects, enhancing skills children will inevitably use elsewhere.

The benefits of music education might be even more tangible than that. A 2004 study published in the journal Psychological Science found that six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons benefitted from small increase in IQs. Groups that received drama lessons or no lessons at all experienced no such increases.

Additional studies have linked music education to other benefits. The Children's Music Workshop notes that research has shown that musical training physically develops the part of the brain associated with processing language.

These are just a handful of the ways music education can positively impact young minds. Parents who want their children to reap these rewards and more can take these steps to encourage a love of music in their children.

• Cut a rug with your kids. Children are bundles of energy who want to expend as much of that energy as possible. Dancing along to music is a great way for kids to use it up. Kids might not be able to waltz or dance an Irish jig, but many love to jump up and down. If they begin to associate music and dancing with jumping up and down, they're more likely to smile when mom and dad crank up the stereo.

• Sing and encourage kids to sing along. Kids won't know if their parents are classically trained opera singers or performers whose vocal talents are best restricted to the shower. Singing along to favorite songs may encourage kids to follow suit, allowing them to learn words and language. Singing also is a fun activity kids are sure to embrace, making them look forward to daily music sessions.

• Let kids be the DJ. When you start playing music, keep a close eye on children to see how they react to different types of music. If they seem to favor one style over another, play that favorite style more often. If they tend to like it all, continue to expand their horizons, which many even open your eyes to musical styles and acts you'd never consider otherwise.

• Let kids participate in music. Especially young children might not be able to pick up a guitar and make it sing, but that doesn't mean they can't participate. Purchase age-appropriate instruments for your children the moment they start playing with toys. Their curiosity might compel them to embrace musical lessons as they grow older. In addition, look for children's musical events in your community, whether it's a sing-along at the local library or an introduction to musical instruments at a nearby community center.

Music can enrich kids' lives in various ways, and it's never too early for parents to encourage a love of music in their children.

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