So you want your kids to enjoy music and possibly study an instrument someday? Don’t wait! YOU are your child’s first and best teacher. Kids learn many important things by emulating what their parents/caregivers do. Ever wonder why your baby wants to play with your phone and your keys instead of their baby toys? It’s because they see you using them regularly and placing value on those things! If you want your kids to love music, you need to model enjoyment of music and make it a valued part of your life.
Even if you aren’t a trained musician, there are many easy ways to incorporate music into your day.
- Sign up for Music Together Classes. Obviously I have a biased opinion because I teach the classes and LOVE them, but they really do help! Every session gives you a collection of new songs to learn in class and sing at home with your child. The classes support children’s musical development, but also give parents ideas for using the songs in different contexts outside of class.
- Sing your way through transitions. Use a familiar melody like “Wheels on the Bus” to sing “Now it’s time to put on shoes, put on shoes, put on shoes…..” instead of your normal spoken directions. Getting ready for the day, leaving the house, cleaning up, bedtime, any kind of routine provides the opportunity for singing about what you’re doing. When you have a wider repertoire of songs (*cough *cough Music Together classes… 😉 you’ll have more melodies to use for substitution lyrics!
- Create “Rituals” to connect musically with your children. Lullabies are a great way to connect musically with your child at bedtime everyday. Any song that you enjoy can be a lullaby if you sing it with love! The diaper table is another great place to sing regularly with very young children since they are right in front of your face and captive for several minutes. This is a wonderful opportunity to do tickle rhymes like “This Little Piggy!”
- Read musical bedtime stories. There are many beautifully illustrated books for folksongs and children’s songs, often with CD’s included. There are some available from West Music. Music Together also has a collection of Singalong Storybooks.
- Make time to model musical enjoyment! Dance with your kids to recorded music, sing along to the radio, attend child-friendly performances, let your kids see you practicing your instrument if you play one. If you model making music and enjoying music, your kids will join you for the ride!