Explore a Variety of Musical Genres
When it comes to introducing their children to music, many parents have gotten creative. Some of them have:
- Held dance parties using the music of Marvin Gaye
- Memorized the lyrics to classic rock songs to sing to their babies
- Made an effort to listen to all sorts of different music
- Watched old music videos to learn the choreography
These are wonderful ways to share a love of music with your child. It is particularly critical that children be exposed to as many musical genres as possible. This means that they hear not only the popular tunes that are on the radio but also classical music, jazz, world music and more.
Each style of music has its own unique set of characteristics, yet they also may have some things in common. By listening to a wide variety of genres, you can develop your child’s musical tastes along with your own.
Without a doubt, kids will probably start out loving to listen to children’s music the most. These songs feature fun, catchy and memorable lyrics, and some of them even have fun dance moves that go along with the words. This makes singing and listening to children’s music a great opportunity to explore rhyming and rhythm as well as physical movement.
However, you’ll also want your kids to be exposed to a good mix of popular genres like pop, rock, country and hip hop. Most of the music in these genres has a really strong beat, making it almost impossible not to dance along. You may want to ensure that you are comfortable with the lyrics of some popular music before using it to introduce your kids to music.
Do you like classical music? If you’re like many people, you might be inclined to say no. However, if you start to explore the world of classical music, you quickly will discover that many of these pieces are more familiar than you realized.
That’s because classical music has popped up everywhere in modern culture. Television shows, movies, commercials and even cartoons are just a few places in which classical music makes a regular appearance. Plus, many of today’s artists are heavily influenced by the masters of classical music. You can hear the influence of classical music even in the work of heavy metal and hard rock artists.
Classical music is more accessible than you may realize, so tune into your local classical radio station or find some online videos to watch with your kids. Try dancing, swaying, marching and clapping to the music to make it even more fun.
Beneath the large canopy of jazz is a huge collection of subgenres, each of which may be fascinating for you and your kids to explore. From swing and bebop to contemporary jazz, this music features inventive lyrics and infectious rhythms. You and your kids won’t be able to help but to dance along.
What about world music? It can be a great deal of fun to expose kids to popular and traditional music from other cultures. While you listen to music from other countries and peoples, you can enrich the experience by learning about the lifestyles of the people, their traditions and their food. It’s a wonderful way to learn about the larger world.
Sing Action Songs and Play Musical Games
Perennially popular kids’ songs like If You’re Happy and You Know It, Bingo and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes have stood the test of time because they combine fun and memorable lyrics with coordinated movements.
Make a regular habit out of singing these songs with your kids at home. Not only does it help to introduce your kids to the joys of music but also it is a fantastic way to get the wiggles out.
Music-based games offer another fun opportunity to get better acquainted with music. One of the easiest is dance freeze, in which the players dance to the music, but must freeze when the music suddenly stops and can only move again when it resumes.
Musical chairs is always a favorite, and pass the parcel is another trusted alternative. If you are looking for a quieter option, then print out some music flashcards to help your children get started with recognizing musical notes.
Read and Recite Nursery Rhymes
With their rhyming and rhythm, nursery rhymes are a wonderful way to get kids more enthusiastic about music. To reinforce the idea of rhythm, consider tapping your foot or clapping your hands as you read or recite. Eventually, you might invite your child to join in by moving to the rhythm. Of course, it’s also fun to say and clap along to nursery rhymes together.
Let Music Play in the Background
Everything is more fun when there’s music to listen to. That includes making dinner, doing the dishes, cleaning the bedrooms or doing just about any other chore. It’s just as much fun to listen to music when the family is in the car or enjoying a picnic in the backyard. How about playing some classical music during dinner or as the kids are getting ready for bed? A soothing selection may aid with digestion and foster a sense of calm.
Don’t forget that playing music while you do chores or other things also helps to create fun memories and strengthens the bonds between family members.
Try Making Musical Instruments
While it is not realistic to expect you to make a tuba or a piano, it is still possible to make rudimentary musical instruments with items that you probably already have around the house.
For example, you could make a guitar with an empty tissue box with a few rubber bands stretched across the opening. A drum may be fashioned from just the bottom of a saucepan and a wooden spoon. You can even fill several mason jars with a different amount of water. When tapped on with an object like a rubber mallet, each jar will make a unique and distinctive sound.
Fill empty plastic water bottles or Easter eggs with dry beans or rick to make maracas or shakers for an extra element of fun.
Try Coloring and Paper-based Activities
You might be surprised by the variety of coloring and activity sheets that you can find on the Internet. Many of these sheets place an emphasis on music, making them an excellent means for learning about music while also having fun.
Consider getting sheets that depict instruments like pianos, guitars and trumpets. While they color, perhaps you can play musical selections that feature that particular instrument. It’s a wonderful way to introduce how an instrument sounds and to compare it with how it looks.
Coloring and activity sheets that deal with note reading also can be valuable. Kids love learning to recognize the symbols.
Go to a Performance
If you are lucky, then you may have a band in your area that performs songs that are geared toward a really young crowd. Even when you don’t have such an opportunity available, it still makes a great deal of sense to take your kids to a concert.
Many communities have open air concert series during the summer. Pack a picnic and head to the park so that your kids have a fascinating opportunity hear music and see it as it is being played.
Read Music-Based Books
So many wonderful children’s books about music are out there just waiting to be discovered. Here are some favorite titles:
- Little Critter: Just a Little Music by Mercer Mayer
- My First Classical Music Book by Genevieve Helsby
- Music Is … by Brandon Stosuy with illustrations by Amy Martin
- Wild Symphony by Dan Brown and Susan Batori
- Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotton by Laura Veirs and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
- Welcome to the Symphony by Carolyn Sloan and James Williamson
Many of these and other books that are written to introduce kids to music either come with an accompanying CD or have fun buttons that make musical sounds. With repetitive text, rhythm and vibrant drawings, these books are bound to become some of your child’s favorites.
Tips for Making Music Introduction Easier
When you are trying to introduce some learning into your kids’ musical exploration, remember to be patient. They may not necessarily like the same music that you do, and that is perfectly fine. Use this as an opportunity to discuss what they like and dislike about a certain piece of music.
It’s also a good idea not to micromanage your child’s experience with music. Give them the freedom to explore music in their own way. At other times, you can learn together, but it’s always a good idea to let them make some discoveries that belong just to them.
It’s also a good idea to keep your expectations realistic. Your child may not immediately love the fun, music-based activity that you have planned. That’s OK. You can try that activity on another day or try something else entirely. Just don’t get hung up on the idea that there’s only one way to introduce music to kids.
Look for Ideas from Prodigies
If you’re looking for more ideas for introducing music to your kids, browse through the programs at Prodigies. We have tons of video lessons, sheet music and activities from which to choose. Whether your kids are infants, toddlers or getting ready to start school, you’ll find the perfect lessons here.