There is a lot of research that shows how music can help children in multiple ways: academically, socially, and creatively. The trick is getting them to want to learn about and become interested in music in the first place.
Here are some tips and other ways you can help bring music into your home and into your child’s life – who knows, you might have a mini-Mozart in your midst!
1. Learn to play an instrument.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that learning to play an instrument encourages people to break down what they hear in a song into smaller bits of information – individual notes, rhythms, etc. and then gradually learn how to rebuild those things into melodies & harmonies and eventually combining it all into the very same songs they listen to every day. Paying attention to all the parts that make a song what it is will help your child appreciate the songs they do hear and they will be able to listen to music with much keener ears.
While the piano is a popular instrument to teach young children to play, not every household (including my own) is equipped with a piano or keyboard. While this activity can absolutely be done on a keyboard, it is also easily done on a xylophone, like the one in the beginner band set. Since young children are also learning their alphabet, it’s a prefect time to introduce all the letters on the keyboard, A-G. I found that these alphabet stickers fit perfectly on the keys of the xylophone. Once you have your xylophone keys labeled, try playing all the notes on a staff (you can use this printable for how to identify notes on a music staff).
Next, have your child draw notes on this blank music sheet printableand encourage him to create his own unique song, or find easy songs that your child recognizes (like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” for example) and help them match the labeled note on the staff to the labeled key on the xylophone.
2. Play music in your home & in your car.
Playing music in the background while at home or in your car gets your child listening to music, even if it is subconsciously. You don’t have to necessarily carve time out of every day for the sole purpose of listening to music. If it’s played quietly enough that it doesn’t distract your child from what he’s doing, but loud enough that he can hear it, he can be doing homework, or playing, or talking, AND getting music exposure at the same time. See if you can catch your child humming or tapping his toes without him realizing it!
3. Make your own instruments.
Finding objects around your house to use as instruments may not be as tough as you might imagine. Think pots and pans or plastic bowls for drums, 2 wooden spoons to keep the beat, metal soup spoons to add a different quality of sound, glasses filled with varying levels of water, board books being opened and snapped shut, bouncing a ball to keep the rhythm, etc. You can also add in an artistic element and turn it into a project by making your own musical instruments, like a rice-shaker, or others described in this previous post about making crafty instruments with your kids.
4. Listen to different genres of music.
While we’ve learned that classical music is great for kids, it’s also beneficial to try branching out into other genres and give your child a variety of songs to listen to. Some types of music will encourage your kids to dance, others will make them want to sing, and other will make them want to keep the beat by clapping along or by using kid-friendly instruments to keep the beat – we think the ones in the band-in-a-box set are especially great for doing this! By listening to and singing songs from your child’s favorite nursery rhymes to their favorite movies, and even some of mom and dad’s favorite kid-appropriate tunes you’ll be exposing them to an array of musical styles with which they can interact…and they’ll be having a great time doing it!
5. Sing songs TO your kids and sing songs WITH your kids.
You don’t need to have an amazing voice (or even a good one) to sing to your kids. They love being sung to, especially by someone with a familiar and soothing voice. As babies, it helps to calm them, and as they grow into toddlers singing the words along with them helps them to develop their vocabulary and language/communication skills.
Whether you as a parent play an instrument, sing in a choir, or none of the above there are many ways in which you can bring music into your home and your child’s life. You might find yourself tapping your toes right along beside him!
Katie Heap is the author of Live Craft Eat–a place where she writes about her 3 loves: raising her family, her crafting endeavors, and learning to cook.