Birth of the beat: 18m - 3 years

How do 18 month – 3 year old children respond to music?

 Your child will now be right into music.  You’ll notice your child singing as they play and making up their own songs.  They will still love novel sounds, new songs and when you sing to her or read a rhyming story.  They may even be able to read YOU a rhyming story if they’ve heard it enough times.  

 Here’s some evidence-based research so you know what your child loves and what they can do during music.


Music Perception

After 12 months of age, your child has almost the same music perception skills as you, so there are few new perceptive skills developed during this period. Between the ages of 2-6 years, children’s perception of other languages, contrasts, and rhythms, continues to decrease while the child’s rhythmic and verbal perception of their native language is further developed.  If you wish your child to learn another language then this is a great argument for exposing your child to other languages early.  

Live singing for infants and young children has time and again been proven more effective than recorded music. So rather than just putting on a CD in the car, sing along with your children – be loud and proud, no one cares if you’re not Pavarotti J

Babies and young children can perceive the emotional nature of live music and elements of parents singing are noticeably different when singing live to their child. Your pitch is higher, tempo slower and there are changes to the timbre of your voice that convey more positive emotion.

Music Responses

When singing with parents, your child will join in
 the song by matching the pitch, moving in time, echoing phrases or anticipating the next phrase or final note. Parents intuitively encourage the child in joint singing
 by manipulating the rhythmic elements - slowing down, imitating, creating a duet or leaving pauses for the child to fill.

Physically your child will respond to recorded and
 live music with clapping, giggling, and dancing with simple twirling and bouncing movements which are highly repetitive and responsive to the tempo and intensity of the music. 

She can sit still and listen to music, clap and match movement to rhythm with around 75% accuracy, explore sound objects and instruments in a more sustained way, and can match music to activities and do actions in time (mostly). She will attempt to copy an adult’s movements but only if they are appropriate to the music and the movement style of the child.

Your child can engage in music listening, imitation, recognition, sounds, rhymes, melodies, rhythms, and tuneful singing.  When your child gets towards 3-4 years old we will start to introduce solo singing in the TLC Music session.  They now have a full aural awareness of sound attributes such as loudness, tempo, pitch, melodic contour, timbre, matching movement to music, experimentation with sounds and sound making, and the development of inner hearing.

There is no doubt that young children enjoy playing instruments and making sounds. While their instrumental play may sound random, it contains regular rhythmic sound groupings which expand into longer rhythmic sequences.  So you may notice that while they may not be in sync with the larger group, they can play very rhythmically with themselves.