Music is a powerful learning tool for parents to use every day.
As I was belting out the song, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” while marching around the room, banging a drum with my four year old today, I was also thinking of 3 things.
- I am NOT a good singer – but oh well – making music with my child has language benefits.
- I am NOT a talented musician – but, oh well – letting him feel the beat with his marching feet and hear my steady drum beat lets him begin to grasp the rhythm of words.
- This music stuff is really good, I should share it with our readers. Wait, I am NOT the one to be sharing parenting tips for making music with your child every day – time to bring in the experts.
I focused on him and only him.
Making Music Every Day
By Lacey Cupp
First, some helpful hints and tips:
- You don’t have to be a musical prodigy to make music with your child. Sing, dance, and play instruments in your own way regardless of your ability level or confidence level. Let your hair down and have fun!
- Remember that children’s voices are naturally pitched higher than most adult voices. When singing with your child or modeling for them, sing in a higher range than you might normally use. Your child will be more likely to sing on pitch with you.
- Follow your child’s lead! Children love to have their musical ideas acknowledged and mimicked. If your child claps to the beat, copy and encourage.
- Don’t expect your child to maintain a steady beat or match pitch from the very beginning. These are difficult skills that take lots of experience to develop. Remember, too, that small children have a faster heart rate than adults. Therefore, their natural tendency is to keep a faster beat than you and I, until their musical skills become more advanced.
There are a million and one ways to make music with your child throughout the day.
Here are just a few ideas to add singing, dancing, and playing to your daily life:
- Start the day with a song! Whether a “good morning” song or something you and your child enjoy, greet her with a happy tune.
- Make up rhymes or songs for difficult activities. Getting a toddler dressed or changing a wiggly one’s diaper can sometimes be a struggle. Make the unpleasant parts of your child’s routine enjoyable by using a familiar tune and changing the words to suit the moment.
- Incorporate made up songs into playtime, too. For example, while rolling a ball across the room, sing “Roll, roll, roll the ball, roll it on the floor…” to the tune of “Row, row, row your boat”. You may surprise yourself with your creative rhymes.
- Have a dance party! After a long, difficult day, come home from work and crank up the tunes. Your child will get a kick out of dancing around the house and seeing her parents act silly. It lifts everyone’s spirit and even gets in a little exercise for the day!
- Turn found objects around the house into instruments. There are the traditional pots and pans, but don’t overlook other opportunities. Empty plastic containers and wooden spoons make great drums. A box of elbow macaroni makes a nice shaker. (Be sure it’s tightly sealed!) A plastic utensil rubbed along the teeth of a comb makes a cool scraper. The possibilities are endless!
- Listen to more than just “kid” music. Of course, listening to and teaching traditional children’s music is very important, but children need exposure to a variety of styles to develop good musical ears. You may be surprised that your child finds some of your musical selections enjoyable.
- Enroll your child in a music class. In many areas, there are a lot of options for group music making. Be sure the class is age-appropriate and taught by a trained, experienced teacher. Music classes for young children should be semi-structured with many opportunities for spontaneity and creativity. Classroom settings should be spacious, but not so large your child can roam away. The room should be well-organized and safe for little ones. These classes will not only give you and your child a special music time together, but will help to develop social, emotional, physical, verbal, and musical skills!