The relevance of sound objects in infancy
Although sound objects and musical instruments are not necessary, especially during the first years of the baby, they still contribute in a beautiful way to his perception and his ability to listen and to express himself. Whether with his body, with found objects, with the sounds of everyday life, with musical toys or with small musical instruments, he participates, in large part, to his own musical awakening.
From birth, a child uses his body as a musical instrument. It makes sounds. At 18 months, he will have learned to clap his hands and will be interested in rhythms. He may also mimic animal sounds, car sounds and sounds of things that he knows. Then, everything is an excuse to play and explore. If your child feels secure, he will happily discover that objects of his surroundings can produce sounds. A small pot, a sheet of paper, a plastic bottle, a wooden spoon, a set of keys… Your little one will use these objects in different ways to discover new sounds that can be drawn. These are his first independent musical explorations. By placing various objects at his disposal, (choose the ones that require a direct contribution), you will allow him to understand causality (I do this, it makes that sound) and to refine his motor skills, among other things.
The adult nearby and in touch with his environment can easily point out day-to-day sounds to his child: the kettle whistling, a zipper sound, the air conditioner turning on, a bird singing outside or the engine of a car passing by. Being curious by nature, the child pays attention to his environment and develops his ability to listen, an essential aspect that will be very useful in his learning experience and in school.
Children may also show great interest for commercial toys but they shouldn’t be the only objects offered in his musical awakening. Among the commercial toys, look for the ones that require mechanical input (by pushing, sliding or shaking for example). To take your pick, balancing is the best choice: some found objects, some commercial musical toys and some musical instruments make a beautiful set. Aim for quality rather than quantity.
Traditional musical instruments can be a fine addition to everything we have mentioned so far. Far from being essential, these instruments provide sounds that are more musical and unusual. The musical instruments of choice are small percussions of a size that can be manipulated by children (bells, maracas, drums, sanded blocks), choose safe ones (avoid objects that are too small) and manageable.
Have fun and enjoy singing and making music with your kids!