How to Share Meaningful Music Experiences with your Child
As a parent, you know what a powerful force music is for your child. A lullaby can soothe your child to sleep; the theme song from your child’s favorite movie continues to transfix her, even after the 100th time she’s listened to it; a song can teach children about a historical event, or to count or spell.
Music also has a tangible impact on brain development. It can strengthen memory, improve literacy, enhance children’s spatial reasoning skills, increase their language skills, and even lead to higher IQs.
Sharing music with your child will not only benefit him cognitively and emotionally, but it is also a great bonding tool for parent and child. So, how can you share meaningful music experiences with your child? Here are several ways, divided into age groups.
For children between 18 months and 3 years, music is a big part of life. Kids this age appreciate music best when they can actively experience it, with everything from clapping to simple hand motions to dancing. Songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Hokey Pokey,” and “The Wheels on the Bus” are great.
To find other good songs, you can search the internet, but you can also make up your own silly songs. Use your child’s name in the songs and make up hand motions or dance moves. Incorporate props like stuffed animals or balloons. Your child may want to sing these songs over and over again. While this may become boring for you, it’s good for your child; repetition helps him learn. You can also use simple instruments. Very young toddlers can use instruments like bells, rattles, or tambourines. Some 2 to 3-year-old children can use simple wind instruments like a recorder or kazoo.
It’s also a good idea to sing songs for everyday routines, like cleaning or bedtime. These songs comfort your child and signal the start of an important activity.
Preschoolers have a natural love of music, and love to sing in particular. This is the perfect age to expand his interest and abilities in music.
At this age kids can usually keep a steady beat. You can enhance this ability by encouraging them to listen for beats in everyday objects such as clocks. Practice staying on beat by clapping or tapping the beat. Make your own instruments by putting beads, rice, or other small objects in a plastic container with a lid, then play your child’s favorite songs and let loose!
The easiest thing you can do at this age is simply put on music and dance with your child. Expose them to a wide variety of music from symphonies to rock. Try having your child copy your moves; you can also have your child make a move for you to copy, too. Create a more visual experience with props such scarves; when the pitch goes up, raise the scarf over your heads; when it goes down, lower the scarf. Or, stand on your tiptoes for higher pitches and stomp your feet for lower pitches.
Finally, if you’ve seen a concert recently, sencourage your child to put on her own concert at home. To make it even more fun, she can even make little paper tickets and get dressed up.
Early school-age children
Continue to listen to a variety of music styles; most children are open to many different genres until about third grade, when they tend to favor popular music. Studies have shown that kids in fourth grade and up usually prefer music with a faster tempo.
At these ages, surround your child with music. Introduce him to music you love or listened to as a child, sing in the car, buy or make your own instruments and make them available to your child, and even form your own family band.
This is also a great time to enroll your child in music lessons. Most kids are ready for formal music instruction between 5 and 7 years old. Piano is a good place to start; learning keyboarding skills introduces them to foundational musical concepts that can be applied to other instruments and even singing. They could also begin with string instruments. It’s important not to force your child to take lessons; however, if they seem genuinely interested, strongly consider providing lessons for them.
Music, you, and your child
Music is a beautiful thing to share with your child. Experiencing music together is a great way to have fun and connect, enhance your child’s brain development, and instill a love for music at an early age.
For more ideas on how to share music with your child, talk to the staff at WorldSong Schools!