In what ways can we encourage musical aptitude in a two-year old?
I don't know whether you can encourage aptitude, as this is built in, but you can encourage interest. Here are some suggestions:
- Buy the child a couple of different instruments. Have no expectations, except for noise.
- Play "band" with your child, where you play along with her in a little band, ideally guided by her.
- Encourage the child to sing and sing songs with her.
- Play music in the house.
- Talk to your child about music, pointing out things of interest in songs etc, and emotions they invoke.
- Ask her questions about music. Simple ones, such as "Do you like this song? Do you like the sound of this instrument? What instrument is that playing?" etc. Also, pretend that you don't know – "Is that a drum?" "No mum, that's a trumpet." This will allow her to feel some accomplishment.
Naturally, a 2 year old is not going to grasp the complexity of something like music, but creating awareness, interest, and enjoyment are the first steps to something greater.
Sing to her. If you play an instrument, play to her. Play "follow the leader" with rhythms on the coffee table. Nothing you do with her will is ever wasted.
When she's older, say five, consider piano lessons. My daughters did well in a music class setting, where they met once a week with the same group of kids. The social aspect seemed to help more than private lessons, but your mileage may vary. Piano is a great place to start, because it tries in so well to reading music and music theory as they grow.