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

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

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


  1. What a great list of ideas. I am not the world's best singer but I sing constantly with and to my kids, and did so when I was teaching.... I just try not to listen to myself! LOL

    1. of my piano students actually laughed AT me this week because of my singing along. I am definitely not a good singer either!

  2. Great ideas!! Garrett and i dance everyday! He's constantly making up new silly dances and naming them ridiculous names. Tons of fun for us all!

    1. Awesome! He'll have to show me some of those crazy dance moves soon.

  3. What a great list! I see why you called it 11 Ways but wow, SO many more than 11! Pinned and sharing on FB today!

  4. This is a great resource, Dyan! My children LOVE music-one is constantly humming some tune-so I know we will be diving in to some of your great activities.

    1. That's great to hear! K is obsessed (and I mean really obsessed) with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. He calls it "tuba." He literally sings it everywhere he goes!

  5. Love this post! We have always tried to encourage music in the house and both of my kids decided they wanted to play instruments as they grew up. Live performances are the best too - it's amazing how much your kids will enjoy if they are just given the opportunity.

    1. You said it perfectly, Jacquie, "it's amazing how much your kids will enjoy if they are just given the opportunity." I agree with you 100%!

  6. I'm glad I found your blog today. I am a fellow musician (and piano teacher, too!), so this post resonates with me. I homeschool my kids and write a music appreciation curriculum, too - so I believe music is so important in our kids' lives! I just pinned your post ;-)

    1. Thanks for pinning! I also believe that music is so important for kids. They can learn so much through music!

  7. What an amazing post!! I love all of your musical posts :) I will be linking this on Monday on my post about how we are learning theory! -Amy @ Wildflower Ramblings

    1. Thank you, Amy! I look forward to checking out your post on Monday.

  8. Kindermusik does this as well..

    1. I'm sure it does, but Kindermusik is also quite expensive (at least where I live), so it's not necessarily an affordable option for lots of families.

  9. Can you recommend a guitar for a 4 year old? The plastic ones don't seem like a great idea because they are so far from what a real guitar feels or sounds like. Still, using a real one and taking care of it may be a bit much for one so young. My husband plays and both my children (2 and 4) LOVE to listen, sing, and dance along. I know my older one would love to play with Daddy with her own guitar but I'd like it to be more than a cheap toy that doesn't really help her learn. Thanks in advance for your thoughts! Great post!!

    1. Hi, Anne! I must admit guitars are not my forte (music pun intended!). However, here are two kid friendly ones that have great reviews. Please note that I haven't actually tried either, but they do look great.

      1. Schoenhut 6 String Guitar (affiliate link):

      2. Hohner 1/2 Classical Guitar (affiliate link):

  10. I've shared your article on my blog! Thank you.