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(This is the fifth post in the series called I Don’t Understand You! – Learning How to Connect with Your Child When They Think Differently than You.  If you haven’t read the first post already, you’ll want to start there.)

Music smart kids think with rhythms and melodies. I Don't Understand YouThey can drive people nuts with their humming and toe tapping. Some kids enjoy listening to music, some have musical ability, and some have both of these tendencies.

Music smart kids are usually characterized by several of the following:

  • Enjoy many different music styles
  • Have a special ability to learn tonal foreign languages
  • Hear in key

If your child has several of the above characteristics then they are probably music smart.

Music smart kids have a song playing in their mind all the time. People who are music smart will choose a church for the quality of worship, not the pastor. Quite often, people who are word smart or logic smart will belittle people for making a spiritual decision for this reason; however, the music is what is important to people with strong musical intelligence.

Kids who are music smart can struggle with perfectionism.  They have a tendency to idolize other musicians and they can have too much pride in their own musical ability.  These kids also need to be taught self control when they are being noisy during a time that they should be quiet.

Music smart kids can get completely lost inside of music.  I remember being a kid and losing all track of time when I was playing the piano.  It was like I was transported to a different place when I was immersed in the music.  Still, to this day, if I want to be able to have my ideas flow freely while I’m writing, I will listen to a favorite movie soundtrack such as “Narnia” or “Lord of the Rings.”  🙂

Here are some practical ways for connecting with your music smart child:

  • Listen to various music – Most of these kids love to listen to lots of types of music.  Listen with them.  Watch music specials on TV with them.Boy playing the piano
  • Allow them to make noise – All kids need to learn self control when they are being disruptive.  When they aren’t disrupting anything and might just be annoying you, learn to zip your lip.  These kids need to be able to hum, tap their fingers, whistle or sing while they are thinking.
  • Get them an MP3 Player – Some of these kids are distracted by silence.  Either play music throughout the house or allow them to listen to music with headphones.  (Note:  Some of these kids will focus so closely on the music that they won’t be able to concentrate on anything else… so you need to experiment to see which way is best for your child.)
  • Support them – Be sure to support their musical practicing and performances.  Encourage their effort!
  • Reaching them spiritually – These kids are going to be reached through praise and worship.  If they are also people smart, they will enjoy corporate worship.  If they are self smart they will enjoy singing music while alone in their room.  Study the lyrics of hymns and praise choruses with them. Teach them about the lives of the composers. Teach them that God will speak to them through songs either on the radio or at church.

Music smart kids end up being great music therapists, worship pastors, music teachers, composers, conductors, jingle writers, and sound engineers.

My boys both LOVE listening to music on their MP3 players.  If they are doing some math problems they are able to do their work more efficiently if they tackle them while listening to some of their favorite music!  Apparently, music helps our brains to function better.

There are studies which back this up as well.  According to a 2001 profile of SAT and Achievement test takers, high school music students score higher on the math and verbal portion of SAT compared to their peers.  Also, a 10 year study done by UCLA involving 25,000 students showed that music-making improves test scores in standardized tests as well as in reading proficiency exams. So, if your kids want to listen to music while doing their schoolwork (or any other time, for that matter) … let them!  🙂

Here are some great methods for teaching these kids:

  • While studying history, let them listen to music from that time period
  • Memorize Bible verses, math facts, or history dates by putting them to a jingle or song
  • Attend concerts with your child
  • Allow them to learn an instrument or sing in the choir

Carol Barnier talks about “the power of the ditty” in her excellent book, The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles.  Carol says that when we are making up a ditty for our child, we shouldn’t worry about making great poetry.  We should simply come up with rhythmical language which contains facts worthy of memorization.  Carol gives the following example of a ditty we’ve probably all learned:

“In 14-hundred and 92… Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

Because this historical fact is set within a catchy rhyme, we never have to worry about forgetting the date during which Columbus discovered the Americas.  Creating ditties is especially beneficial for helping music smart kids to remember important information.

For more information about creating ditties – or other creative techniques for teaching kids, please check out Carol’s book, The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles.  For more tips for helping you to understand your Music Smart Child, please check out Kathy Koch’s book, How Am I Smart?

Question:  Do you have a Music Smart Child? Have you found any other clever ways to connect with your child? What has your experience been like when dealing with a child who thinks differently than you? Please leave a comment below.