TEACHING TIP #2: Active Listening

listen_silentSILENCE IS GOLDEN. Give kids the gift of silence. From infants to teens, all kids need some periods of silence in their day. Constant background music (even if it’s classical) and nonstop television are lethal to listening skills. Without framing active listening experiences with periods of silence, children are less likely to be stimulated and engaged.

Well-intentioned parents think that by playing classical music constantly their children will be “infused” with appreciation. But the opposite happens: the“Muzak effect” quickly takes place. If exposed to constant music or noise, unbroken by silence, their ears become deadened and their brains “tune out” to protect themselves from intrusive, passive music and ambient noise. Periods of silence help turn off this defense mechanism kids will otherwise develop to protect themselves from their noisy environment. Their appreciation of music will increase if they listen intentionally and engage emotionally and physically with music. Thanks to periods of enforced silence, their rested ears, brains, and bodies will be ready to actively engage 100% with the music. Music will then attract their concentration and attention, not activate their defense mechanism to “tune out.”

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