Monday, October 07, 2013

11 Ways to Encourage a Love for Music in Kids (Plus, 10 Music Books for Kids!)

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Music plays a huge role in my life, especially since I am a piano teacher.  As a result, my boys have always been surrounded by music.  They already show a strong interest in music and love listening to music, doing music activities, and dancing to the various rhythms around us.  Simply put, it has been easy and natural for me to encourage a love for music in my children.

Yet, I know there are lots of parents who struggle with this area.  And the benefits of music are well known.  So how can someone who is self-proclaimed as "unmusical" encourage their kids to love and appreciate music?  Well, worry no more!  I've got you covered with these tips that will help you explore and encourage a love for music with your kids, starting right from infancy.

11 ways to encourage a love for music in kids (includes activities, book, toy, and CD suggestions) from And Next Comes L

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1. Listen to Music

Okay, this tip probably seems extremely obvious.  However, there is a wide range of music to choose from so how do you decide what or what not to listen to.  Well, my general rule is to listen to music that you enjoy listening to because you will likely have to listen to certain music over and over.  So it definitely helps if it's something you already enjoy.

However, one genre of music that most people struggle with is classical music.  Classical music can be overwhelming as there is so much to choose from.  So if you are unsure where to start in your classical music journey, I would start with these:

2. Move to Music

Encouraging your child to move to music can help them explore and learn about tempo and rhythm.  And dancing to music is one great way to do so.  Even infants can take part.  Simply pop them into a baby carrier, then snuggle and dance away!

3. Sing Songs & Rhymes

It is so easy to incorporate music by singing songs and doing rhymes together.  You don't have to be a great singer for your child to love it.  They will think you're awesome anyway.  Trust me.  And the sillier the better.  Both my husband and I will make up silly songs throughout the day and it always makes the boys happy.  You can check out some of the songs and rhymes that we love here.

4. Play and Learn Using Music Toys

There are lots of toys available that can introduce your children to music, but my absolute favorite music toy is the Symphony in B.  It's great for learning about instruments and what they sound like, as well as for learning about instrument families, conducting, tempo, and so much more.  You can read my full review here.  I cannot recommend this toy enough.  It is AWESOME!

Symphony in B, just one of many great recommended music toys for kids from And Next Comes L

Another great toy is the Instruments Toob by Safari Ltd..  They're great for learning about instruments and can be used for a variety of activities, such as this music magnet tray and this music sensory bin.

I will also include toy instruments or instruments designed for kids here, even though they might not necessarily be "toys."  I like Melissa & Doug Band in a Box, but you can find similar instruments at the dollar store.

5. Make Homemade Instruments

There are numerous instruments that you and your child can make together, such as a tin can drum or a rainbow xylophone.  You can also just use plastic containers and some sort of mallet like I did for the glow stick drumming activity

Perhaps the easiest to make are a guitar using a box and some rubber bands or shaker eggs.  Fill some plastic eggs with rice, beans, or even bells to make some shaker eggs.  Then seal with glue or tape.  You can see two of our homemade shaker eggs below.

Homemade shaker eggs from And Next Comes L

6. Read Books About Music

Probably one of the easiest things that you can do to encourage a love for music in your kids is to read to them about music.  So here is a list of music books to check out:

Or check out this great list of 15 books about music from No Time for Flash Cards.

7. Do Music Related Crafts and Activities

If you've browsed my blog at all, you know that I have done many music related crafts and activities with my boys, including:
Music tape resist art, just one of many music activities from And Next Comes L

8. Take a Music Class/Lessons

Of course, you can always sign your child up for music lessons.  Lots of places even offer baby friendly music courses.  So it is possible to expose the littlest ones to music right from the beginning, you just have to look and see what's offered in your area.

RELATED: Starting Piano Lesson: When is a Child Ready for Piano Lessons?

9. Attend Live Music Performances

Depending on where you live, you can take your child to live music performances ranging from a night at the symphony to a local band concert to the free stage at the jazz festival.  My local symphony even has a special series designed for children!  Just see what's available in your community and take advantage of it.

My boys personally enjoy going to one of my former piano student's band concerts.  Yay, for beginner band!

10. Let Them Make Noise! 

Singing loudly, banging pots and pans, clapping, shaking containers, etc. are some of a toddler's favorite past times.  Sure it can often be headache-inducing, but I say, "Let them make noise!"  Doing so allows your child to explore the following things:
  • Cause and effect (e.g., hitting pot with a spoon makes a cool sound)
  • Volume and dynamics (e.g., hitting the pots harder makes the sound louder versus small taps making a small sound)
  • Tempo (e.g., hitting fast versus slow)
  • Pitch (e.g., singing high versus low or water volume and its relation to pitch in a water xylophone)
  • Creativity through songwriting
  • Imaginative play (e.g., pretending pots are drums)

11. Learn About Instruments

Finally, learn about instruments.  You can look at pictures and listen to audio clips to see what the instruments look and sound like.  But, my boys' personal favorite, is to actually try playing the instruments.  You can start with simple instruments like a triangle or tambourine or recorder, but your kids will love to play around on a piano or guitar or trumpet or whatever real instrument you might have access to.  Definitely let them try them out as there is no better way to learn about them than trying to play them.

Other Ideas You'll Love

50 Music Activities for Kids

Music Resources for Parents & Educators

8 Signs That Your Child is Ready for Piano Lessons

How to Encourage Kids to Practice Piano

11 ways to encourage a love for music in kids (includes activities, book, toy, and CD suggestions) from And Next Comes L