Playing guitar to your child can be both beneficial and soothing. The video is an example of my own daughter who could be relaxed simply by playing guitar. It seemed to work every time except if she was in pain or in need of something. We knew when the guitar playing didn't work something was really wrong. I found it fascinating that babies were naturally curious about music so I did a little research. Apparently researchers have found infants respond more to rhythm than speech. This is obvious in the video as my daughter is both entranced and physically engaged in the music.
Are we naturally musical?
In an experiment carried out by British and Finnish researchers (see the Exam Health website) they tested the responses of babies between 5 months and 2 years of age. The result was babies were more responsive to music opposed to speech which may suggest that musical awareness is encoded in our DNA. Listening to music may very well be an important part of the human experience which therefore means playing and creating music may just be a natural part of life like language. It may not be a case of whether to play a musical instrument or not but more a case of which instrument to play.
Does music make you smarter?
The idea that music makes us smarter is still open for debate although many music teachers believe the evidence is undeniable. The Mozart effect was popular throughout the 80's and 90's but was based on an experiment which when replicated some years later showed very different results. True science is about replicating results. What is true though is the correlation between music students and better grades at school. One study published on the Science Daily website claims that learning music helps improve reading skills. There are many theories as to why but from my own evaluation I concluded that confidence probably plays a role. Music students build confidence usually via music lessons with a supportive teacher and this transfers across to other subjects. Perhaps this is partly my own personal experience as well.
Expose your children to all kinds of music.
There is no doubt that our brains benefit from music and in years to come I am confident more and more evidence will come to light. It is therefore well worth taking time to introduce your child to music and expose them on a daily basis. Don't be too concerned about whether it's rock, jazz, classical etc. Just play the music you enjoy and that way it will be a pleasure. Your child will discover their own musical preferences in time. I also question what we have come to know as children's music. Sure children respond to simple songs about dinosaurs but this doesn't mean its all they should be listening to. Exposing children from an early age to different styles of music is important. My daughter who is now three years old sings all the standard children's songs but also loves to rock out, tap along to jazz and even relaxes to classical music. Her tastes are wide and varied mostly due to early exposure.