The Fifth Beatle, or Music Education Begins at Home!

As you might expect, I’m an enthusiastic proponent of music education in all stages of life, starting in early childhood and continuing as long as a person has life left in ’em. An early start confers many advantages: in addition to the sheer joy and fun that it can bring, involvement in music is believed by many professionals in education and the neurosciences to boost brain development and aid in learning. (Here are just a couple of sources on the topic, among many: PE and Music for Higher Test Scores, Music and the Brain.) I believe it helps with socialization and cooperation as well, if kids have a chance to participate in musical group activities, like singing in a choir or playing in a band.

And though it may not be discussed as often in child development circles, I believe that music is also a vitally important tool for helping children connect to our shared cultural heritage. Opportunites for making this connection abound in our everyday lives, especially in music-loving households.

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Click Mr. Readmore for a story of how one of those opportunities arose for me recently! 😉

McDoc and I visited his sister and her family last weekend. Her husband is a singer and guitar player, and their son, who’s just shy of 2 1/2, is already showing musical proclivities — a result of Dad’s good influence, of course!

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At this tender age, you don’t want to impose too much structure on the learning process yet; it’s better to let the child’s natural creativity flourish. Here, my nephew demonstrates one of the extended techniques he has discovered on his own:

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Fertile ground for the growth of musical knowledge!

beatles19671970.jpgAt one point during our visit, I was sitting next to my nephew during a car ride, and he began to require a bit of distraction. Fortunately, I had this CD’s case handy (“Here Comes the Sun” was on repeat mode in the car stereo), so I seized the opportunity to teach him the names that go with these famous faces. He did very well with this, except he got a little confused when it came to George. You see, he has two cats, George and Max, and a few times when I pointed to George, he would say, “Max!”

George

George

Who’s your other kitty?” I hinted. I was afraid that the cat-name coincidence might have created an indelible association in his mind.

Max

Max

Or maybe my nephew knows something the rest of us don’t?

I had learned that the Fifth Beatle was this guy, but it turns out there are a number of candidates for that title.

Add one more to the mix!

Max, the reclusive and little-known Fifth Beatle?

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In any case, I’m happy to report that, several days later, my nephew is still correctly identifying the four Beatles on the album cover — even George! (And I thought Ringo was the hardest! 😉 )

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