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The new JBL Xtreme 3 is the perfect speaker for families.

Whether I’m out with my family for a picnic, having a day at the beach, or simply relaxing poolside – this new speaker from JBL offers newfound ease to carry music with me wherever I go.

Man and woman at campground, JBL speaker in forgeround
JBL Xtreme 3 designed to go where you go

Most speakers are fragile, lose battery quickly and can be a hazard around the little ones. Often, they have to be plugged into the wall and require hours of charging and on top of that, they can contribute to the endless black-hole of similar-looking cords – all with individual and specific purposes. With a convenient USB-C charging cord that is likely to power a number of your devices, this speaker is designed with the user in mind.

SOUND CONTROL:

 What I love the most about the Xtreme 3 is the beautiful and rich depth of sound. With sensitive volume control that is easily adjusted with buttons along the topside of the device granting me the versatility to host a house full of guests, or to simply soundtrack a relaxing night in.

JBL Xtreme 3 Speaker
Powerful sound: four drivers and two pumping JBL Bass Radiators.

DURABLE:

Water-proof and dust-proof, this speaker can survive all the elements. Eliminating any concern over preserving my new and expensive toy – the speaker can be submerged for up to half an hour within a metre of water. Sand on the beach? Splashes of water from the pool? No problem. Plus, this makes for easy cleaning – whether it needs a good rinse from sand or dirt or just a quick wipe down.

USE IT ANYWHERE:

With a busy family that is on the go: parties, camping trips, beach holidays, backyard BBQs…the list goes on –it’s handy to have a speaker that can keep up with me and last the distance. After just 2.5 hours of charging, the speaker is juiced up with 15-hour battery life.

Dancer with JBL Speaker

BUILT TO LAST:

The durability of the speaker is yet another bonus, with grips along the speaker base making it non-slip. But, even better yet is the sturdy make that allows for peace of mind should it be subject to any rough and tumble around the house.

Girls holding hands skateboarding carrying speaker
Carry strap for all day, everyday use

CONVENIENT:

The new JBL Xtreme 3 rises to the challenge and offers features I didn’t realise I had been missing. Days of either leaving the speaker behind or awkwardly lugging an extra and soon deemed unnecessary item around with me are over. I particularly enjoy the convenience of easily transporting it outside when entertaining guests, for a weekend away or around the house for my children’s birthday, all with thanks to its lightweight and carry strap.

Blue JBL Xtreme 3
Blue JBL Xtreme 3

SIMPLE AND EASY TO USE FEATURES INCLUDE:

  • Extended battery life
  • USB-C Charging port – a new feature for increased user-friendliness, the speaker can be charged with any USB-C cable, so you don’t have to pack different cords
  • USB port in the back – out for the day and running low on battery? Plug your phone cord in the back and let the speaker charge your phone
  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity – connect your phone via Bluetooth and have access to all of your or the kid’s favourite music
  • Party Boost – the speaker comes with a new function to easily connect to other JBL speakers and increase the sound and distance, perfect for bigger groups and families for compatible listening
  • Easy-to-use control buttons – situated between the handles on the top of the device to you can: power up, connect to Bluetooth, adjust the volume, play and pause, and activate Party Boost; the speaker is simple to operate
  • The speaker comes with a starter guide, adaptor and power cord + regional plug, carry strap and safety sheet

SPECS:

  • 1.97kg weight
  • Dimensions: 28.8cm width x 13.2cm diameter x 13.6cm height
  • Water-proof
  • Dust-proof
  • Black or Blue colourway
  • $399.99 RRP

https://www.jbl.com.au/XTREME-3-.html

The importance of music in children’s lives begins well before they start playing with the xylophones at kinder. Music has an impact on a baby’s development before they are even born, and can impact their development in the first years of their lives.

 

Impact on the brain

In a series of musical play sessions undertaken by a Washington Education study, a group of nine-month-old babies recorded having improved brain processing of both music and new speech sounds in the weeks after the experiment. This and other studies have found that there is a strong link in the human brain between rhythmic patterns that we hear in music and the rhythmic patterns in speech – regardless of the language being spoken.

Listening to music primes the cognitive processes in the brain to listen carefully and imitate parents’ speech, copying rhythmic patterns as well as sounds even before the linguistic meaning of individual words is learnt.

Postdoctoral researcher and lead author, Christina Zhao, states that interaction with music and musical experiences from an early age has a greater overall impact on the cognitive skills of babies. Within one week, babies who listen to music from an early age can sense disruptions in musical patterns. Studies where babies’ brains have been monitored while music is being played have shown that when a song or a line of speech is disrupted either in rhythm or flow, babies who have listened to music from birth can detect this disruption.

Studies from the Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences have revealed that the auditory and prefrontal cortexes of the brains of babies who have listened to music look physically different and are more developed than those of other children of the same age. These two regions of the brain are responsible for processing music as well as speech.

 

Playing versus listening

While listening is one major aspect of the overall impact of music, playing music takes everything one step further. Playing musical instruments, even if it is simply your infant making noise on a toy drum, has a profound effect on the brain regardless of age. For babies, playing with a musical instrument requires them to use and further develop their fine motor skills, encourages linguistic and mathematical precision when it comes to rhythms on the instrument, and most importantly encourages creativity through experimenting with sounds.

Playing music is a unique activity for children, teenagers and adults alike as it uses multiple areas of the brain all at once. It is one of the only activities that stimulates a multitude of areas in the brain simultaneously. In babies, music stimulates the formation of brain chemicals that we receive when we listen to music – dopamine and oxytocin. Both of these chemicals are the foundations for encouraging sharing, trust and empathy.

Child playing piano

Social and emotional development in babies is also increased through music listening and playing, with reduction in stress levels, improvement in moods, and mood management through listening to sad and happy songs.

 

What kind of music?

All music helps to stimulate the faculties, but classical music has a particularly strong effect on infants and unborn babies. Referred to as “The Mozart Effect”, playing classical music by Mozart while babies are in the womb has shown to have lasting effects on them after they are born.

Classical music is itself more musically complicated than most standard radio pop or country songs. It therefore takes a lot more brain activity in both infants and adults (but particularly infants) to process the complexity of what they are hearing when they listen to classical music. Introducing your children to playlists of soft Mozart or classical music (link to playlists on Spotify? Or a recommendation that I write out? Barbie Nutcracker, Swan Lake, etc. examples?) is a good way to start the listening process even while they are in the womb. After they are born, soft classical music has been shown to improve sleep quality by relaxing babies, as well as the added benefits to cognitive function and speech acquisition.

A recent experiment where foetuses were played 70 hours of music in the last week of pregnancy showed that these children had better motor and linguistic development by six months old than children who had had no musical stimulus.

Introducing your baby to music is an experience that has long lasting effects on your child’s development as they grow older. It’s an easy way to assist them in brain development, and one that you can participate in too as a parent by joining in on the listening, singing, dancing, and playing with musical instruments together.

 

 

It’s 7.00 am in 2013. I am living in the suburbs of New York City. Papa is annoyed. I know this because Scottish pipes and drums are blasting from the Bose speakers in the kitchen – this means we are late to breakfast.

Different styles of music marked different stages of our day growing up. For example, on a normal week day, we played classical music at breakfast. As a result, from a young age, we were familiar with Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 and Mozart’s Requiem, K. 626. These composers and their pieces marked the beginning of every day. At lunch time, we listened to Neil Diamond in the 70s and Stan Getz’s Girl from Impanema. Dinner, however, was exclusively American and Italian jazz.  Frank is a big family favourite—always kicking off Saturday night appetisers with New York, New York.

For as long as I can remember, I have woken to classical and fallen asleep to jazz.

Graffiti of jazz musicians.

With my days structured in musical genres, I was able to use my spare time for exploring my own musical tastes. From rap, to country, to Pitbull – my Spotify playlists never seem to make much sense. Indeed, growing up listening to different types of music meant I could not only explore a myriad of musical epochs, but also developed an interest in their history, because of the important social and political role some musicians played.

The way my parents used music to break up our days and structure them according to meal times, meant to this day, I associate music with community, to a time for conversation, and a time to enjoy my food.

I credit my solid relationship with food with the benefits of music.

A young family sharing a meal together.

As I grow older, I am increasingly aware of the manner in which family dynamics around food and meals can shape and affect our children’s eating habits. The benefits of listening to music at home in a structured, but enjoyable way, meant, growing up, the time for eating was always a shared event. Music brought my family together around a small kitchen island for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

A happy family having a picnic.

Not only has the correlation between food and music positively affected the quality of our time spent eating, but as well as that of our conversation. If anything, music inspires taste and mood, which is reflected in the way people communicate.

Research on the association between music and its intellectual benefits for kids is common. The assumption is, however, that there is causation involved between listening to music and children earning higher marks. This didn’t play out for me because I was never patient enough to learn a musical instrument and always preferred kicking the soccer ball. However, alternative explanations could explain why children who grow up listening to music or playing a musical instrument achieve success. For instance, a child taking the time to learn to play the guitar might learn the skill of perseverance, which helps when tackling challenging homework.

Toddler playing the guitar at home.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) show that music has physical and emotional benefits. Music activates the emotional reward system of our brains and causes the release of dopamine. This is one of the main signaling molecules in our brains. It is often used to describe a small, pleasurable thrill. Music creates ‘peak emotional arousal’ following for instance, the anticipation of a beat drop or a particularly enjoyable passage.

This creates a similar feeling in our bodies as that of other ‘euphoria-inducing stimuli’ such as food, drugs and sex.

A model of the human brain.

When combined with other euphoric aspects of our lives – i.e. food and a happy family environment, music has incredible social and personal benefits. The natural benefits of music on the body explain why music is a universal concept among humans.

If you’ve ever thought about putting your children in music class, you should definitely consider it. The benefits of children learning to play music extends to their physical, social and emotional skill!

Music researchers have found that the musical intellect of an adult is largely developed during the first five years of life. The first three years of a child’s life are fundamentally the time of the most growth physically, verbally and emotionally. Music stimulates, educates, helps concentration and soothes the soul.

Music stimulates, educates, helps concentration and soothes the soul.

Infants who are exposed to music with assisted movement will remember and later demonstrate their learning when they reach the age of independent movement and speech. Toddlers who are struggling with single syllable words will often sing complete phrases and those learning to walk spontaneously begin to dance.

Early Learning Music (ELM) offers enjoyable, educational music classes for children aged sixteen months to eight years, and beyond. They are designed to help children develop physical, emotional, social and musical skills in a fun environment full of singing, moving, dancing and playing percussion instruments. The classes are sequential and follow a developmental program that is suited to the needs and capabilities of each child.

The fun and stimulation of participating in ELM music classes for children not only supports children’s learning in general, it also develops children’s creativity and imagination.

 

The first three years of a child’s life are fundamentally the time of the most growth physically, verbally and emotionally. Music stimulates, educates, helps concentration and soothes the soul.

The classes are run by highly qualified, trained teachers who use their extensive knowledge of child development and music education to design programs specific to the needs of the children in each music class.

ELM is a Kodaly music school and a member of the Do-Re-Mi association of Australia. As children grow, so too do the Do Re Mi music classes. They move through the levels in a natural, sequential way, adding to and expanding on the true development of a child.

Operating at Scotch College in Swanbourne, ELM aims to immerse children in a musical world of discovery, while parents are taught how to enrich their child’s musical journey.

ELM strives to help families develop an appreciation and love of music that can be nurtured and shared, and last a lifetime.

If you’d like to find out about enrolling your child in a music program with ELM please email ELM@scotch.wa.edu.au

The Performing Arts is a transformative experience essential to a child’s wellbeing and development. Whether it’s drama, music or dance, we’ve got you covered with the best professional programs and stay-at-home fun!

Extracurricular activities fill up the calendars of most school aged children these days. However, sport is usually the dominant feature over more creative pursuits. But did you know engaging in the Performing Arts, whether it be dance, drama or music has phenomenal benefits for kids’ wellbeing and development?

 

If your child is shy and lacks confidence, introducing them to Performing Arts could be a life changing decision. The combination of a safe environment and engaging activities could be the trigger to bring them out of their shell.

Performing Arts have the ability to provide kids with a wide variety of skills to set them up for life. It’s not about becoming a star or getting the leading role, it’s about stimulating the body and mind and the vast emotional, social and educational paybacks.

Being a part of a performance process, exposes your child to new ways of thinking, moving, engaging and doing. Research shows that children who sing, dance, act or play instruments are more likely to be recognised for academic achievement compared with their non-performing counterparts.

It’s not about becoming a star or getting the leading role, it’s about stimulating the body and mind and the vast emotional, social and educational paybacks.

But the benefits don’t end there. Here are some of the key rewards children receive from participating in Performing Arts:

1. Self-esteem and Confidence

The safe environment of a class, as well as the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, will help bolster your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Children will make mistakes, we all do, but they will have the chance to practice and learn, and eventually succeed at a given task, generating immense feelings of pride, which can have a flow on effect to reducing anxiety and depression.

2. Social Skills

Most creative activities require teamwork or some collaboration. This expands children’s skills in communication, conflict resolution, negotiation and empathy. By learning collaboration kids begin to see that their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role. Through team work kids can learn to see things from different perspectives and understand the motivations, feelings and opinions of others.

3. Perseverance and Resilience

Learning an instrument or dance requires practice, patience and persistence. On the journey to success children learn the old anecdote ‘the show must go on’ when things don’t come together perfectly, and they may be required to accept constructive feedback, which will prove a vital skill in later life. Once the performance is complete the sense of accomplishment will drive perseverance in their next endeavour.

4. Concentration and Control

The ability to listen, retain and contribute in a creative class demands a great deal of focus. Equally the core strength, coordination, flexibility and balance required across all performing art forms such as sitting with an instrument for extended periods or executing ballet are all skills that will help enormously when transferred to a school setting.

But Performing Arts aren’t limited to music lessons and dance studios. Perth’s Fringe World Festival Director, Amber Hasler, says we just have to look at the expanding programs and performances drawing huge crowds to the 750 events that made up this year’s Fringe World, with genres from comedy to circus and cabaret acts to realise the endless options and opportunities available in today’s performing art scene.

“Events like Fringe get people out of their houses and interested in the arts in general,” she says. The annual program is a month-long celebration of talented artists including film makers, circus acts, puppetry, mermaids, magic, illusion, comedy, dance, musicals. It really is a joy to bring culture and an array of art forms to the public and open up their perception and appreciation.”

With so many possibilities and endless benefits it can be a daunting task finding the right activity for your child. Offspring has put together a guide to help you navigate the options.

A dance class will introduce children to the notion of a troupe. It is a great way to increase connectivity with others.

Dance

 

Dance is an expressive art form. It is active and a great way to improve fitness, body awareness, motor skills, strength, posture and flexibility. Dancing has recognised social and psychological advantages to a child’s development from problem solving and critical thinking to developing resilience and team work. For many dancers, the activity provides an outlet for emotions, stresses and an escape from daily life.

A dance class will introduce children to the notion of a troupe. It’s not just you on stage but a larger group that is counting on you to do your part. The sense of responsibility and relying on peers gives an incredible sense of belonging. Most often dancers bond tightly together to develop a strong friendship set within their dance school. It is a great way to increase connectivity with others.

Many dance schools offer classes from toddlers to adults. Dance classes focused on enjoyment and movement are perfect for little ones looking to burn off some energy. Lots of dance schools, recreation centres, day care centres, churches and community groups offer specific toddler classes where technique, routines and costumes are not so important.

For older children looking for more structure and the opportunity to become involved in competitions, exams or concerts, there are many styles from which to choose including Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Acrobatics, Cheerleading and Hip Hop. Talk to your child about their interests, ask around for recommendations, visit a few studios and ask about trial classes.

Drama

Drama puts children in exciting, funny, thought-provoking and interesting circumstances to expand their view of the world and the people within it. It is not just limited to stage shows but encompasses circus acts, illusions, puppetry and theatre sports.

“Not every child that takes drama will become a famous actor, but they will walk away with the tools to speak in public and speak up for themselves. They don’t have to be the best, they just have to be involved,” Bronwyn Edinger, Director of Northern Sydney’s Glen Street Theatre told Offspring.

Drama classes cover many skills including voice training, improvisation, role playing and creative movement. Drama, like dance, is suitable to a range of ages and abilities from three years through to adults. Many primary and high schools offer a drama program and some local youth centres provide opportunities to be involved in regular theatrical productions. Otherwise, ask around for recommendations of a good drama club.

Bring the benefits of drama into your home:

1. Set up a box of dress-ups and props to help children create imaginative scenarios, include a large sheet to use as the stage curtain.

2. Create your very own sock puppets. Puppets are a great way for shy kids to engage.

3. Instead of simply reading a story with your child, why not role play and act it out?

Music

Music is a powerful form of expression. It has the ability to change moods and evoke emotional responses simply through sound. Your child doesn’t have to be a prodigy musician to get involved either, signing up for a choir or a band is a great place to start as it removes the pressure associated with solo instruction and performances.Most schools will have a choir your child can freely join.

One of Australia’s most admired conductors, receiving an Order of Australia for his passionate advocacy of music education Richard Gill, believes physical education and arts education should book-end the Australian curriculum, with music being at the forefront, as early as possible in the life of a child.

“The impact this type of education would have on children,with respect to creative thinking, imaginative problem solving, resulting in classrooms full of engaged and interested minds with the capacity to think, perceive, analyse and act upon ideas, would turn the educational decline on its head,” he said during a recent speech to the Collegiate of Specialist Music Educators.

You don’t need to be a wonderful singer or musician to share music with a child, nor spend a lot of money on musical activities, with many local libraries or community groups offering free ‘rhyme time’ sessions to introduce babies and toddlers to rhymes, songs and instruments.

For older children, learning an instrument can teach perseverance, build self-esteem and assist with other school-based education such as reading and maths from learning to read music and count beats.

Your child’s school might teach certain instruments or offer a music program. Otherwise word-of-mouth is always a great way to start looking for a teacher. If you are seeking private tuition check the qualifications of the teachers and find out costs, expectations and ensure they match your child’s desires, some will be more casual and others will expect participation in examinations and recitals. Ask about hiring instruments before committing, as some instruments are expensive and need a lot of practice and persistence.

So How Do You Choose the Right Instrument?

Choosing an instrument to learn can be exciting and full of possibilities. Talk to your child about their interests and visit a reputable music store to see the instruments in their grandeur. Most formal music lessons start between five to nine years old, group classes are recommended for even younger children. The Forte School of Music gives these ages and instruments as a guide:

Piano is highly recommended as a child’s first instrument, it can be played as soon as a child can reach the keys and has enough strength to press them down.
Recommended age: 5+

 Recorder is a common choice in a school setting. It is cheap, children can play it easily and it provides a good introduction to making music.
Recommended age: 5+

Stringed instruments often come in smaller sizes specifically for kids. Some children can handle a violin from the age of four.
Recommended age: 5+ (violin); 9+ (viola and cello)

Wind and brass instruments should not be attempted before your child’s permanent teeth come in because of the pressure on the teeth when they are played, the actual size of the instrument, the lip strength required and the “puff” needed to make a noise.
Recommended age: 8+ (flute, clarinet); 9+ (saxophone, trumpet, trombone, French horn)

✪ Drum and guitars tend to be a big favourite among kids.
Recommended age: 7+

Singing is something that can be enjoyed at all ages, but it is best not to start learning formally until 9+ years.

Bring your own music to life:

1. Have the radio or music stream playing during the day instead of the TV. It will encourage you and your child to sing and dance along.

2. Construct your own musical instruments such as shakers, drums and cymbals from pots and pans, household and craft item.

Not Keen on the Spotlight?

If your child is shy and lacks confidence introducing them to Performing Arts could be a life changing decision. The combination of a safe environment and engaging activities could be the trigger to bring them out of their shell. But don’t push too hard, there are other ways to expose your child to the wonders of the art form without participating:

✪ A trip to the circus – there is nothing quite as awe inspiring as aerial acrobatics.

✪ A dance performance – seeing classical ballet at the theatre or a local dance school’s concert is a lively and colourful experience.

✪ A balloon twisting, puppet or magic show – the illusions will captivate your child’s imagination and open them to the possibilities within Performing Arts. Activities like these are easy to create at home.

Tips to help your child overcome anxiety before a big performance:

Normalise feelings of anxiety and remind your child, everyone, even adults feel nervous before going on stage.

Talk your child through their worries and remind them of other moments when they felt anxious and things ended up being successful.

✪ Help your child calm their nerves by taking four or five long, deep breaths or counting backward from ten.

✪ A concert – there are many touring music acts for kids, teens or adults to provide a great shared experience.

✪ Local community events – whether it is the local choir or dance troupe, carolling, a drama production or an idol contest, there are often opportunities to see an array of performances in your own community.

Most children delight in taking part in some sort of performing art, whether it is dance, drama or music, but did you know it is good for their wellbeing? And there is plenty you can do to harbour your child’s enthusiasm without the need to enrol them in formal classes.

The driving force behind many parent’s desire to encourage their offspring in performing arts isn’t to create starlets of the future or precocious brats, it is about stimulating the body and mind and the wrath of emotional, social and educational paybacks including;

Confidence – Performing in front of an audience whether it be parents or peers will help a child get comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone; allow them to make mistakes and learn from them and give them a voice to speak up for themselves.

Team workThrough the arts, children work together, share responsibility as well as accept responsibility, problem solve, experience empathy for others and learn to compromise to achieve a common goal. By learning collaboration kids begin to see their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role. It is also a great way to make new friends with similar interests.

Perseverance – Learning an instrument or dance requires practice, patience and persistence. On the journey to success children learn that receiving constructive feedback is a regular part of any arts instruction with a goal to improve skills, not personal attacks, which will prove a vital skill in later life. Once completed, the sense of accomplishment will drive perseverance in the next endeavour.

Concentration The ability to listen, retain and contribute involves a great deal of focus. The ability to concentrate for extended periods in an artistic setting will not only assist when it comes to school work, it will also encourage creative thinking and help a child be able to think on their feet and ‘outside of the box’.

The link between performing arts and improved educational performance is astounding, dating as far back as ancient Greek philosopher Plato who said, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but more importantly music for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”

With so many benefits, how can we most effectively engage our children in these activities?

Dance is active and a great way to improve fitness, body awareness, motor skills, strength, posture and flexibility.

“Dance, laughter and exercise trigger the release of endorphins which help reduce stress, prevent illness and relieve pain. It is proven that people who exercise are happier, and that goes for children as well,” former fitness instructor and founder of the Happy Feet Fitness program Donna McColl told Offspring.

Her program delivered primarily through child care facilities to around 10,000, 2-5 year olds in Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and launching into New South Wales this year, was designed to entertain and inspire kids to make positive, healthy choices for themselves through dance, puppetry, magic and song.

“There is nothing more important than our children’s health, well-being and happiness. Nothing more valuable than their sense of spirit.” McColl says.

Dancing has recognised social and psychological advantages to a child’s development from problem solving and critical thinking to developing resilience and empathy for others. Another wonderful attribute of dance is its suitability to a wide range of ages, interests and abilities. Many dance schools offer classes from toddlers to adults.

“Dance can cross all social and cultural barriers,” McColl says.

Dance classes focused on enjoyment and movement are perfect for younger children where technique, routines and costumes are not so important. For older children looking for more structure and the opportunity to become involved in concerts, there are so many options including:

  • ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, acrobatics, cheerleading and hip hop.

Talk to your child about their interests, visit a few studios and observe a class or two and ask about trial options. Local dance schools will often advertise in parenting and local papers or can be found online listed according to  locality.

Bring it into your home:

Your little one doesn’t need to attend a formal dance class to start moving, there are plenty of free online tutorials to follow, computer games specifically designed to get you dancing in your lounge room. Or just put on some music and jump around!

Drama puts children in exciting, funny, thought provoking and interesting circumstances to expand their view of the world and the people within it. It is not just limited to stage shows but encompasses circus acts, illusions, puppetry and theatre sports.

“Not every child that takes drama will become a famous actor, but they will walk away with the tools to speak in public and speak up for themselves. They don’t have to be the best, they just have to be involved,” Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA) Executive Director Bronwyn Edinger says.

There is a healing power in drama. Edinger describes the success of an initiative by the Bell Shakespeare theatre company, which she is a former General Manager, of providing theatrical opportunities to those of social and geographic disadvantage, including remote indigenous communities and juvenile detention facilities, who would otherwise not experience the power and magic of Shakespeare or live theatre.

“The programs, like drama itself, are designed to develop life skills including decision-making, empathy, conflict resolution and self-confidence. After taking part in the program there is a notable improvement in behaviour and school attendance, interest in education and feelings of self worth,” Edinger says.

Drama, like dance, is suitable to a range of ages and abilities from three years through to adults. Many primary and high schools offer a drama program and some local youth centres provide opportunities to be involved in regular theatrical productions. Otherwise, ask for recommendations of a good drama club.

Bring it into your home:

  • Set up a box of dress-ups and props to help children create imaginative scenarios, include a large sheet to use as the stage curtain.
  • Create your very own sock puppets.
  • Instead of simply reading a story with your child, why not role play and act it out?

Music educator and conductor Richard Gill believes physical education and arts education should book-end the Australian curriculum, with music being at the forefront, as early as possible in the life of a child.

Research indicates that the earlier music is included in a child’s development, the better. This does not need to be limited to structured lessons. You can sing with your child at home, play music and expose your child to live performances.

“The impact this type of education would have on children, with respect to creative thinking, imaginative problem solving, resulting in classrooms full of engaged and interested minds with the capacity to think, perceive, analyse and act upon ideas, would turn the educational decline on its head,” he said during a speech to the Collegiate of Specialist Music Educators.

Vicki King, Artistic Director at the Australian School of Performing Arts, says, “The educational value placed on music and song seems less of a priority in Australian schools compared to some European countries, which is a great shame. And sadly, parent’s singing to their children from infancy appears to have also declined somewhat in the past 20 years. Life seems so much busier, plus lots of people don’t have the confidence to sing even if it is at home with their child.

“You don’t need to be a wonderful singer or musician to share music with a child, unstructured musical play is so important because that is where children’s inspiration will come to life because they aren’t having to sit and learn the notes, they are simply enjoying the experience.”

Your child doesn’t have to be a prodigy musician to get involved either, King suggests a group participation activity such as a choir or a band is a great place to start a child as it removes the pressure and stresses associated with solo performances.

“For many of our senior students the Australian Girls Choir provide a beacon of light in their otherwise chaotic lives. A place to park their brain for a while and ignore homework and the politics of home and school life. Music gives them enormous stress relief, comradery and confidence,” King told Offspring.

Finding a teacher

Word-of-mouth is always a great way to start looking for a teacher is any art form. Check with your child’s primary school to see if they offer a music. Check the qualifications of the teachers and find out costs, expectations and ensure they match your child’s desires, some will be more casual and others will expect participation in examinations and recitals. Ask for a free trial class and the ability to hire instruments before committing.

Bring it into your home:

  • Have the radio or CD playing during the day instead of the TV. It will encourage you and your child to sing and dance along.
  • Construct your own musical instruments such as shakers, drums and cymbals from pots and pans, household and craft items.

Choosing an instrument:

Most formal music lessons start between the ages of five to nine, group classes are recommended for younger children. The Forte School of Music gives these ages and instruments as a guide:

  • The piano is highly recommended as a child’s first instrument, it can be played as soon as a child can reach the keys and has enough strength to press them down. Recommended age: 5+
  • The recorder is a common choice in a school setting. It is cheap, children can play it easily and it provides a good introduction to making music. Recommended age: 5+
  • Stringed instruments often come in smaller sizes specifically for kids. Some children can handle a violin from the age of four. Recommended age: 5+ (violin); 9+ (viola and cello)
  • Other wind and brass instruments should not be attempted before your child’s permanent teeth come in because of the pressure on the teeth when they are played, the actual size of the instrument, the lip strength required and the “puff” needed to make a noise. Recommended age: 8+ (flute, clarinet); 9+ (saxophone, trumpet, trombone, french horn)
  • Drum and guitars tend to be a big favourite among kids. Recommended age: 7+
  • Singing is something that can be enjoyed at all ages, but it is best not to start learning formally until 9+ years.

Not keen on the spotlight?

Performing isn’t for everyone so don’t push too hard, there are other ways to expose your child to the wonders of the art form:

  • A trip to the circus – there is nothing quite as awe inspiring as aerial acrobatics;
  • A dance performance – seeing classical ballet at the theatre or a local dance school’s concert is a lively and colourful experience;
  • A balloon twisting,  puppet or magic show; the illusions will captivate your child’s imagination and open them to the possibilities within performing arts. Activities like these are easy to create at home and occasionally local councils and libraries run demonstrations or workshops.
  • A concert – there are many touring music acts specifically designed for young ones especially around school holiday times; or
  • Local community events – whether it is the local choir, carolling, a drama production or a idol contest there are often opportunities to see an array of performances in your own community.