Ahh... the sound of music. No, not the beloved and famous movie starring Julie Andrews, but actual music notes played from instruments or sung by voices. I have always loved hearing and making music. There is nothing that brightens and lifts the spirit more than the strains of a song drifting throughout our home.
As parents, it is important to make it a point to encourage and nurture our child's exposure to the world of music. Introducing your child to music and song encourages their interaction with others, and inspires creative expression. It gives wing to their imagination, and can help in their development. But if you consider yourself a non-singer or never took piano or other instrumental lessons yourself, you may be reluctant to share the world of music with your little one.
Not to worry! You do not have to be a professional singer, or play an instrument to share music with your child. Here's our guide to sharing the joy of listening and making music with your children.
- A parent's voice is the first musical "instrument" a child hears. One of the easiest things a parent can do from the moment you bring your newborn home is to sing lullabies. Sing with lullaby CD's or hum to classical music. You'll soon find that your baby has a favorite song even when they are very young. Once your baby becomes a toddler, it's great to sing and dance with your child to silly songs, particularly action songs.
- You may feel silly breaking out in that "sing-song tone," but with a little tweaking of lyrics to songs you enjoy, adding some rhyme and movements, and you'll find you both enjoy the experience. For example, short song jingles, such as "may I have some milk now, please?" and "thank you oh so very much" or "David now it's time for bed" to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down." will quickly grab their attention and motivate them to do what you would like them to do!
- Hum to your little one with their ear against your heart. You don't need any particular tune, just snuggle up and start humming a little melody! Babies love this.
- Take your little one to see live music performed, such as street performers, local fairs and other events that you do not have to worry about annoying other listeners. Open air is a better choice than an enclosed area that could bombard little ears with too many sounds.
- Invite your older child to sing with you to the new baby when you are pregnant and after baby is born. This helps alleviate sibling rivalry and makes the older sibling feel an important part of the new baby's life.
- Kids love making music! Make musical instruments from items found in the household. An old coffee canister can become a drum. Plastic yogurt cups with dried beans or rice in them easily become shakers. Blowing into bottles with different levels of water become pipes. A comb with a handle and colored tissue paper wrapped around the comb becomes a kazoo. A paper plate with jingle bells glued on it becomes a tambourine. Tap two spoons together. Have a fun day with the kids creating your instruments or go to the local dollar store and look for inexpensive instruments, then jam along with some CD's.
- Listen to music CD's together--- all types of genres. Classical, reggae, folk, ragtime, jazz, opera, silly songs. Teach your children the history of the music, and tap out the rhythm of the songs together.
- Select a special song that just the two of you can dance to each day at a certain time. Maybe it's your "bedtime boogie" song, or a song that is played when you come home from work.
- Open your ears. Discover the rhythms of the sounds of life--- the swish-swish of the washing machine, the song of the birds, rivers and wind in the trees. The crickets singing in the summer and wind chimes tinkling on the patio. Close your eyes and listen to the symphony of natural music, and talk about the sounds and rhythms you hear. Invent a song to some of the sounds.
- Take a music and movement class with your infant, toddler or preschooler.
- Make up new words to songs. This is a great activity when traveling in the car and you can end up with some wonderfully hilarious songs.
- As your child gets older, share in their interest and love of music. Ask your child about the artists they admire and listen to their work with your child.
- Dance to music with your child.
- You have heard of family game night? Try a family karaoke night where everyone joins in singing funny songs together.
- If you do involve your child in music lessons or a children's choir, attend their concerts without fail. Have them rehearse for you at home to help them gain self-confidence.
Music is a very enriching and positive experience, no matter what your age. It transcends language barriers, encourages interaction with others, and can make a child's playtime or bedtime an enchanted time. The magic of music shared together is a rewarding experience. It will remain a part of your child's life and the experiences will be shared with their own little ones in the symphony of life.
Catherine is the owner, songwriter and one of the vocal artistst for PitterPatter Productions. The company has been producing it original award-winning music for children since 1992, specializing in lullabies for newborns and babies, and music for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners. All of our music albums are available on CD at our website (www.pitterpatterproductions.com). The Dream Faerie, Sleepy Time Lullabies and Topsy Toddler Time albums are also available for download by the song or album at CDBaby.com, Amazon.com & iTunes under artist Catherine Pittman. Photo used in this post courtesy of Jomphong.