You know that song you heard today while waiting in line at the grocery store? The one that’s been playing on a loop in your head all afternoon, that you can’t seem to get rid of?

Well, that process–the one of recognizing music and then hearing it in your mind–that’s called audiation. It’s a complex skill, even if it feels you’ve been doing it your entire life. In fact, without necessarily noticing it, you probably have!

Just like yours, your child’s audiation skills started developing in their infancy, and are still being developed now by your time in the Music Together classroom.

Even if you’ve only been to classes for a few sessions, you’ve no doubt heard your teacher holding off on singing the very last note of the song. As silence fills the room, everyone in it is invisibly audiating. Which is to say, they’re all hearing the very last note in their minds. And that includes your child!

Sometimes a child will fill the silence with the note you’re all waiting for, and sometimes it just resonates in the child’s mind while he or she appears to be doing other things. Nevertheless, the note is there, and it’s building your child’s foundation of musical skills each and every time it happens.

And this skill is crucial to musical development. As Lili M. Levinowitz, one of the founders of Music Together, wrote, “Audiation is paramount in importance because it is basic to all types of musical thinking. Without audiation, no musical growth can take place.”

So what can you do to help develop this skill for your child? Well, you can make like a Music Together teacher and try the exact same experiment at home. Choose a favorite song from the current collection, or any tune that’s familiar to your child. Maybe even that one from the grocery store! Hum a few notes of it, and then wait.

If your child doesn’t fill the silence with the sound of the note, that’s fine! You may choose to do it yourself, or just leave the silence there. Either way, your child is still getting practice at listening and predicting what comes next musically, and that’s what matters.

In fact, next time you and your child are in the grocery store together, maybe he or she will sing along to that one song for a note or two. Or maybe you’ll just both go home with it stuck in your heads!

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