Home is where the music is. This means that, kids learn music at home. On a daily basis, whether you realize it or not, music is being incorporated in your day to day life. In this post I will give you tips to teach music to your children in your own home.
In college, I was so excited to graduate and begin teaching music. I had a desire to teach at a school that didn’t have a music program. Well, lo and behold, the only job that opened up for me to start in the middle of the school year was a school that hadn’t had a music program in 6 years. I couldn’t wait to jump in and teach these kids music and remember how excited I was to take on the challenge. The challenge turned into something that I loved and I was inspired each and every day to create new ideas that reached these students and got them excited to come back to my class day after day.
Fast forward 12 years, and that same passion for jumping in to teach music in a school setting has taken on a new role. My desire is to now help teach music to those who can’t attend a traditional music class, can’t take a formal music lesson, or who have a desire to learn more about how to teach music at home but don’t know where to start. I believe music can be learned at home and can be so simple to get started on your own. No matter what your background is, how much formal music instruction you have received, what your economic status is, how old you are, whether you’ve given up on music, if you feel like you wouldn’t understand it, YOU CAN TEACH MUSIC TO YOUR CHILD.
I have had conversations with some of my home school mom friends or even stay at home mom friends of younger kids who say things to me like “how do I teach music to my kids at home” , “we don’t have time in our curriculum to fit music in”, “music lessons are just too expensive”, “I don’t know anything about music so there is no way I can teach someone else about it.” Well, being a former school music educator, I have some simple ideas that will work perfectly for kids who learn at home. I believe the value of a quality music education program whether in a school setting, a private lesson, or in the privacy of your own home is essential to a well rounded education. So, I am going to share some tips to just help you get started in introducing your child to music. These are ideas that anyone can implement and are simple to do.
- Sing-Even if you don’t have the best singing voice, babies LOVE to be sung to. I have been known to sing familiar songs or make up my own songs. The awesome thing is, babies do not care what you are singing or what you sound like. Also, just hearing animals sounds or a car horn are ways for a baby to start experimenting with making high and low sounds with their little voices. Without even realizing, your baby is at the beginning stages of singing.
- Move-Play some music on the radio and watch the baby move. Just as adults have our own way of dancing and ways we enjoy listening to music, babies do too!
- Play-Give a baby some wrapping paper, turn a pot upside down and hand them a spoon, a plastic cup to hit, and you will love seeing how creative they get! If you want to get some fun instrument to use at home, the Hohner 4 Piece Baby Band are some great instruments that are easy for the littlest of musicians to use.
- Sing-Your toddler will love to learn songs from you. Pick your favorite 5 songs, and sing it with them while doing the motions. Pretty soon, you will hear your child ask you to sing one of those songs with them or will hear them singing it by themself. You could even read a book that goes along with that song and turn it into a literacy lesson.
- Move-If you’ve ever been around a toddler or a preschooler for 5 minutes, you know they have very short attention spans. This is one of the reasons it is important to let these kiddos move as much as possible. Play some music and just let them dance to it. You will be impressed with the “Footloose” dance moves your child comes up with. It is also fun for you to let down your hair and dance right along with them. Let your inner child out and your toddler will love it. Preschoolers will also enjoy playing “Freeze dance”. Play a song, pause it, and they have to stop moving when the music stops and can start dancing again when they hear the music. Give the child a scarf and watch how they move it in the air to the music. Give them directions to move it high, low, in a circle, on the floor, or whatever else you come up with.
- Play-I know you aren’t fully equipped with a classroom set of drums and xylophones. So, let me give you ideas for what you could use as instruments at home. Pull out your plastic tupperware and hand your child a plastic spoon, play a song, and watch your child go to town hitting their “drum.” Give the child two spoons and they can use them as “rhythm sticks.” Put some rocks in a tupperware container, put the lid on it, and shake it like a “marracca”. March around the room with your instruments and make a marching band. Put rubberbands around a kleenex box to make a “guitar.” The possibilities are endless when it comes to using anything you have laying around the house as an instrument. If you want some good instruments for your children, these are some rhythm instruments that are easy to use and fun to play…Melissa & Doug Band in a Box & Caterpillar Xylophone Bundle
- Sing-Play songs from the genre of music your child likes, and let them sing along. Learning to match pitch can take some time and ear training and hearing themselves is the first step. The simplest way to start is to pick one song, work on one part of the song for a week learning the words, matching pitch, discussing the way the melody moves, and then move on to the next section of the song. If your child cannot match pitch or doesn’t have a very good singing voice it is ok! I cannot stress enough that learning to match pitch and sing in tune takes time. It does not come naturally to everyone and we are not all destined to be the next Mariah Carey. Just getting them singing and comfortable doing it is the main goal.
- Move-Play music and let them dance. Let kids come up with their own dances giving them instructions on how many steps they need to come up with. Have them watch a Kids Bop video and learn the moves they are taught. Do body percussion together. This is when you can clap, stomp, pat your legs, march, snap, jump, pat your shoulders, or any other way to use your body to make music. Listen to a familiar song and have the child mirror body percussion after you. Have them come up with their own body percussion and let them be the teacher. Give the child a scarf and let them explore the movement to songs of different speeds to explore slow and fast.
- Play-I always tell parents the perfect age to learn an instrument is when the child begins learning to read. So around the age of 5-6 is perfect. Piano is a great instrument to begin with. If you don’t have a piano, there are several smaller keyboards available to purchase that are not that expensive, to get started on. The one I use and the one that I recommend is the Yamaha YPG-235 76-Key Portable Piano w/ Knox Stand & Bench ,Sustain Pedal and Survivalkit (Includes Power Supply and 2 Year Warranty)
Have you figured out ways to teach your child music at home? What are your favorite activities to do together?
If you are a parent, student, or teacher who wants to learn more about music, connect with other musicians, or wants to post their latest videos of what they’ve been working on, I would love for you to join my Facebook group Music Education Connection. Collaborate, learn from each other, and grow new friendships. This is a place to receive encouragement, positive feedback, and to ask questions.
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