f you’ve always hoped your child would play an instrument, a good place to start is by sparking their interest in music. This is particularly so if, as a parent, you haven’t had a musical background yourself. Here are our top 7 tips for bringing music into your child’s life and encouraging them to want to learn:
1) Make music a part of daily life
One way to do this is by a choosing a “wake up” song or a “getting dressed” song. This can both prompt action (useful if your child tends to dawdle) and can set the mood you hope to sustain for the day.
2) Encourage children to engage at an emotional level
This can be prompted just by discussions on pieces you are listening to, e.g. ‘Do you think this is elephant- stomping music or fairy dance music?’ In addition, create playlists of mixed genres on your music player that fit moods e.g. ‘party music’, ‘calm down music’ or thinking music’. These discussions both improve emotional literacy and prompt your child to reflect on how different types of music evoke feeling.
Sing in the bath, sing in the kitchen and sing your child to sleep (no matter how old they are – lullabies are not just for babies – they’ll soon tell you to stop if they don’t like it!). Before DVD players and gaming devices, people sang in the car. If your choice is classical, conduct – wildly and frenetically – if it’s jazz, get out your imaginary saxophones and have a jam, or crack out the disco for a car boogie. If you don’t feel comfortable singing, beat out your rhythms on whatever percussion item (pens, rulers, wooden spoons) are close by and get your kids to join in.
4) Use music as a backdrop for creative projects
Play music when your child is playing with Lego, painting, colouring, doing craft or cooking. As well as providing a lovely mood it can help children transition to a meditative, creative space.
5) Visit the San Francisco Orchestra website
If you are not familiar with instruments, the San Francisco Orchestra website http://www.sfskids.org/is a great place to start with an introduction to orchestral instruments, the sounds they make and how they fit into the orchestra. Use your newfound knowledge to identify instruments in a piece of music. I still remember my grandfather doing this with me while listening to an old recording of Prokofiev’s, Peter and the Wolf. It is a beautiful experience to have with a child that also aids active listening and focus.
6) Make, create, borrow or hire instruments.
Simple musical instruments such as maracas can be made with spit peas in a closed plastic bottle. Alternatively make a drum, buy a recorder or, if your child is showing real interest consider hiring a violin, flute or clarinet.
7) Attend WASO’s cushion concerts
If your child is young, attend WASO’s cushion concerts which are a fantastic introduction to classical music. For older children, see their ‘Pops Series’ which include, for example the music of John Williams known for the soundtracks of ET, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Giving your child the experience of seeing bassoonists, violinists and trombonists play music that they know and appreciate will hopefully engage and inspire them. For more information see: waso.com.au
The nice thing about opening your life up to more music is how much pleasure and learning can be gained from it – for children and parents alike.