My Musical Toddler

It's very popular now to begin playing music for your child even while she is still in the womb, because researchers say that exposure to music as a young child helps develop the brain for math skills later in life.  I don't know if that is true, but I grew up with a piano and loved music from infancy and I was always really good at algebra.

I've been playing music for Ewan since he was an infant.  I have a Baby Einstein CD of songs for kids, 2 classical music CDs, and a Ziggy Marley CD that we play in the car for him.  His recent favorite TV shows have been Yo Gabba Gabba and Wonder Pets, which are both full of music and singing.  Recently he has started singing to himself while playing!

Uncle Billy and Ewan (18 months) on Christmas Day 2011

Listening to music with your child is easy, but what do you do for your toddler when he or she shows interest in playing music?  He has some instruments: drums, rattles, bells, shakers, an electric keyboard, and even a small xylophone, but Ewan has shown an interest in guitars from about 9 months.  At Christmas this year he was so excited to play guitar with his uncle Billy.  Billy pressed the frets and Ewan strummed the strings.  He was captivated for about 30 minutes!  That's a long time for a toddler to do anything.  Then, we had to put the guitar away because he wanted to carry it around the house, and I was afraid he would scratch it or throw it (his new favorite thing to do).  He was so upset that we wouldn't let him keep it.

My husband and I wondered: how do we go about encouraging his interest and desire to learn to play music on his own, while keeping in mind his limitations as a toddler?  We decided to buy him his own guitar.

Ewan with his new guitar in January 2012.
"Don't bug me!  I'm concentrating!"
We bought a Fender Starcaster, which is a nylon-stringed, child-sized guitar, and he loves it!  We took him to a local shop to pick out a good guitar for him.  He walked in and said, "Guitar!"  And then he ran around wanting to try all of them.  We tried out ukuleles, electric basses, and acoustics.  Joe tried to get him interested in trying out the drums, but he seemed focused on the guitars.  I steered his hands away from the more expensive ones.

I was grateful that the shop owner didn't get too annoyed with a toddler running around his shop wanting to touch everything.  He seemed excited that Ewan was so into the instruments.

Right now he just likes to strum the strings, but I'm excited that he loves the guitar and that we got him something that he can grown into.  I've heard that motivated kids can start lessons at about 5 years old.  I hope he stays motivated!