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Toddler playing drums with pots and wooden spoons

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Making Music: Building the Brain

Pots and Pans: Music for the Brain

Let your toddler make music with items you already have at home. Maybe old pots and pans and a couple of wooden spoons. Those clanging and pounding sounds she'll make might not sound like music at all, but inside her brain there is a well orchestrated concert going on: an explosion of neuro connections happening as she creates music and rhythm.

Why is this important? First, by doing this seemingly simple activity, your child is replicating the rhythm she hears in language, and consequently, developing language skills. Second, playing a musical instrument requires auditory, visual, and fine motor skills coordination, and these activities light up every area in our brains. So when you see your child banging on those pots and pans, visualize the equivalent of a full body workout happening in her brain! Most importantly, when we play a musical instrument, the bridge that connects the left and right sides of the brain, increases in volume and activity. This allows information to get across the brain faster, which in turn translates into solving problems more effectively and creatively. 

So, encourage your child's musical skills with simple, homemade instruments such as a cardboard guitar. You can make it with an empty cereal box and attaching yarn strings alongside the box. Shakers are also easy to make: you just need an empty plastic bottle, and adding dry beans or rice inside. Or just let your toddler be a drummer by giving him a long spoon and a bucket or a pot.

And next time you hear tapping, banging, or thundering drumming on the kitchen floor, don't think of it as a pointless and noisy activity, but rather as a well coordinated brain concert of which the conductor is your child.