Teaching Your Child About Music

Teaching Your Child About Music

Are you a Home School parent and teacher ?

Or perhaps you might be a parent who simply wants to teach your child about music ?

Music soothes the soul and calms the savage beast. This applies to children as well !

Music education and appreciation is VERY important.

It opens up new ideas, new feelings, new thought processes, new passions and new discussions with your child.

But, how do you go about opening your child’s mind to music ?

Recently, I was fortunate enough to have a discussion with Jennifer from TheDeliberateMom.com regarding this very topic.  Jennifer has kindly shared an article I wrote for her blog which offers some more suggestions along teaching music to children and creating your own Home School Musical.

Thanks Jennifer !

There are two ways to begin instilling a lifelong love of music for your child.

Listening and Playing.

Listen to Music. Any Music.Listen

For the listening component, why not explore different styles of music ?  Together, you and your children can seek out some new music for just a few minutes a day.

Your taste in music might be vastly different to that of your child’s, which can open up some interesting and educational dialogue where you will both learn something !

Why not try, for want of an example, to have one day where you might listen to some calming Jazz music (try Miles Davis – his “Kind of Blue” is arguably the best album ever made),

The next day, listen to some Funk music (try James Brown or Maceo Parker).

Another day you could try some classic 60’s (try the Beach Boys, listen to the vocal harmonies), some modern Hip Hop (although watch out for potential unsavoury language), some Musical Theatre (Disney movies !!), some 16th Century Baroque choirs (excellent early Christian music almost exclusively played in churches at the time), some Country and Western, and so on.

For some modern classical music education, you can’t go past listening to the story of Peter And The Wolf.  Its superb orchestrations and its use of the various instruments to invoke the characters have delighted adults and children for 50 years.

Similarly, the 1950’s Disney classic Fantasia, starring Mickey Mouse, also uses classical music very effectively in place of dialogue.

Possibly better for 10yo+ students, Pink Floyd and their album from the early 70’s called “Dark Side of the Moon” has some amazing stereophonic effects. Have your child sit in between the speakers and listen to the sounds moving around and across the room and back. The running footsteps and the clocks in particular are incredible effects even now 40 years since it was recorded.

Pick a genre – any genre – listen and discuss.

Just listen and ask questions – do you like it, why or why not, is it fast or slow, loud or soft, what instruments can you hear, do you like the drums or the singing or the saxophone in this song the best ?

Perhaps try to incorporate it with some Geography lessons too.

Try to find a song from a different country and discuss the cultural influences – for example, Samba music from Brazil, Zorba music from Greece, Panpipes from Peru, Bagpipes from Scotland, Sitar and Tablah music from India.

Play Music. Enjoy. Repeat.

For the playing component of the music education for the early primary school child, why not make some musical instruments ?TappinPlastic

Percussion instruments such as drums or shakers can easily be made with things you probably have around the house already.  Empty ice cream containers make great drums.  Cardboard tubes (from toilet rolls or plastic food wrap or tin foil) filled with different things such as raw rice, or raw pasta, or gravel or sand make excellent shakers.  Youtube will be your friend if you get stuck for ideas.

Some excellent teaching ideas for the basics of music using simple clapping and home made percussion instruments can be found here.

Once children get to be about 8 years old, perhaps it might be time to explore playing a “real” instrument.  This does not need to be expensive.

Perhaps you could start off with something cheap – a plastic descant recorder will set you back $10 or less.Recorder and Pens

Most local music shops rent out perfectly good student instruments like keyboards, trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, violins, cellos and guitars.  The costs for this rental can be as low as $10 – $20 a month, which is a bargain for a musical instrument potentially worth up to a thousand dollars or more.

Some music shops even credit this rental towards a “rent to buy” scheme, where the monies paid for rental over the months come off the price of the instrument should you choose to buy it later on.

Kids change their minds with alarming regularity, so you don’t necessarily want to invest in an expensive piece of musical hardware straight away only to have your child lose interest after a few weeks.

Depending on your musical skill level you might be able to teach your child yourself as part of your home schooling curriculum.

Online Music Lessons.

Or, once again, YouTube will be remarkably useful – at least in the initial stages.  Just search for “beginner <insert instrument name here> lesson” and you will find dozens of useful first steps in bite sized videos of 5 or 10 minutes duration.

You can join in too – learning something together is much more fun and more beneficial for your child than if you just leave them to it.

Udemy_CMWPresuming your child enjoys it, the next step might be some structured online video lessons.  Udemy.com has many sensational training courses and lesson strategies about pretty much any topic you like – including musical instruments and music lessons from beginners to advanced levels.  These lesson packages can range in price from $0 (free !) to $200 or more and can be well worth the investment.  Highly recommended.

From there it might be worth considering a specialist music teacher – a real human – in your local area.

Music teachers can come to you, or you can go to them. Either way, nothing beats private one-on-one music lessons.  Private music lessons will cost around $20 or $30 per half hour.

Or, perhaps if you know a few potential music students, such as 2 or 3 of your child’s friends, it might be worth getting a group together to share the costs… but 4 children in a group music lesson is probably the maximum I would recommend.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

The key with music lessons is practice.  The old saying “practice makes perfect” was probably uttered by a parent who was trying to motivate their child to practice their musical instrument.

Early on in a young musician’s career, ten or fifteen minutes practice every day will see them progress in leaps and bounds.  The more they play, the better they become, which in turn motivates them to play more….

Here is another article that gives some more excellent ideas about how to teach your child about music.

Mood Music.

Over a realistic period of several weeks – you may notice that music can influence your children’s mood.

You can use this for Good and to your advantage.

However, don’t tell Silly And Disruptive Uncle Roger, because he will use this information for Not So Good.

Fast and lively music can produce spontaneous outburst of giggling and dancing.Happy_Dance

After a long and stressful morning/afternoon/evening of trying to get smaller people to do their math equations, why not reward them (and yourself) by cranking up the stereo with something that everyone can’t help but dance to for a few minutes ? This releases energy and frustrations and can help to reset their brains in readiness to start the next activity.

Slow, relaxing and calming music at a medium to soft volume can bring the vibe down again. It can be a signal for nap or rest time. It can act as a calming and relaxing tool to help everyone slow down and take stock of their thoughts and feelings. Play some calming music at bed time. Play some calming music when there are tears or sickness. Play some calming music when there is anger or tension.

Music is everywhere.

It surrounds us, motivates us, inspires us.  It can bring back long lost thoughts and memories. It can influence our emotions and moods.

When used correctly, music can be one of the most wonderful and joyous experiences we humans can have.

Do you have any tips or suggestions about how to teach your child music ?

How do you get them to practice ?

Please leave your comments below – and don’t forget to share this post via the social sharing links on the left !

Thanks,

Matthew

Calming Music Weekly.

Photo Credits – Listen by Steven Shorrock , Tappin Plastic by MTSOfan , Recorder and Pens by Wolfgang Lonien, Happy Dance by Sangudo.

P.S.  Don’t forget to visit Jennifer and my guest post on her blog – Home School Musical.

2 Comments

  • Wonderful post Matthew.

    As you shared “teaching” our children about music doesn’t have to be a big scary thing.

    You provided some wonderful tips here.

    Thanks again for guest posting. It was a joy having you over at The Deliberate Mom.

    Wishing you a lovely week!

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