Nurturing a love and appreciation for music in your child is an important and beautiful preparation for formal music lessons. Someone has to invest time into developing their interest in music, and there is no better person than their own Mommy or Daddy!
When preparing your little people for music lessons, keep these three goals in mind:
- Nurturing their interest in music.
- Giving them a head-start on understanding foundational musical concepts.
- Helping them develop the hand/body coordination they will need to handle the physical requirements of their instrument.
There are so many great exercises and activities you can do with your little ones at home to prepare their minds, fingers, and hearts for music lessons. Let’s look a few practical ways you can do that.
Nurturing Musical Interest
Play Classical Music Around the House.
Children aren’t likely to develop an interest in music if they rarely hear it, so make music a part of your daily life. It doesn’t have to be at the forefront – play a variety of composers in the background during playtime, and your little ones will be influenced by the atmosphere.
Attend Real Concerts…
…and make a big deal about it! Talk about it ahead of time, get dressed up, take pictures — show excitement! When it’s over, talk about it some more. Concerts are an invaluable learning opportunity for you and your children and can be a memory they will always treasure, if you make it one.
Make the Most of The Internet.
Thanks to Youtube, we can give our children musical experiences on the days, weeks, and months we can’t attend concerts. Pull up some chairs, huddle around, listen, watch, and talk about what you’ve heard. Oh, and don’t forget… Popcorn!
Read Stories of Great Composers, Hymn Writers, and Musicians.
Teach Them to Respect Instruments.
Sing, Sing, Sing!
Pick a composer’s birthday to celebrate each month, and have a party! Spend the morning or afternoon listening to that composer’s music, reading stories about his life, enjoying a meal or treat from his culture, studying his time period, and anything else you can think of. If you’re really into it, some birthday cupcakes will be a hit, too! This one is more elaborate than the others, but if you’re up for it, you’ll have a blast!
Fostering Musical Understanding
Teach Them Basic Music Terms & Symbols.
If a child can learn to recognize ball, chair, and cookie, he can learn to recognize note, staff, and “twebble clef”. Give him a jumpstart on the stuff he’ll need to know when he begins music lessons – it will help him feel less overwhelmed at the first lesson. Start with helping him to recognize these, and he’ll have a great head start:
- Staff, Treble Clef, Bass Clef, Measure, Barline, Time Signature
- Quarter Note, Half Note, Dotted Half Note, Whole Note
- Quarter Rest, Half Rest, Whole Rest
You can never start training a child’s ear too early. Even the most basic ear training will make a tremendous difference. I’ll be sharing some beginner ear training activities soon, but in the meantime, try starting with simple exercises like these:
- Loud/Soft, Long/Short, High/Low, Same Note/Different Note, Notes Going Up/Notes Going Down
Help them Learn the Names and Sounds of Instruments.
This one might just be the most fun of all! Look at pictures and illustrations of instruments online or in a music book together. Help your children recognize different instruments and instrument families. Watch solo and orchestral videos on youtube to help them learn the sounds of each instrument, then switch to recordings where they can only hear the instrument sounds. This can be a super fun and educational guessing game!
Teach Them the Names of Basic Instrument Parts…
…and what they do! Kids are fascinated by how things work, and instruments are no exception. If you’re not sure what’s what, do a wink or two of research and then let them learn with you! (Online is an excellent resource.) Keep it interactive and try to get around as many instruments as possible. Your kids will have a blast, and you know what? You will too.
Names of Keys
They’ll need to know how the music alphabet works, and the piano is a great place to learn. The keyboard is arguably the easiest instrument to learn how the music alphabet works – partly because of its simple visual patter (it is straightforward and repetitive, unlike the violin or trumpet), and partly because it’s right in front of your face instead of left, right, up, or down, like the violin, flute, trombone, or cello.
Developing Physical Coordination
Clapping their Hands to the Beat in Music
This one is important! Clapping their hands to the beat will not only help them recognize where the beat is, it will also help them learn to coordinate their body movements with the beat, which is a crucial part of understanding and executing rhythm on an instrument. You can do this one with classical music, or your favorite hymns, folk, or pop tunes. P.S. …it’s lots of fun!
Holding a Ball
If your child is starting with piano lessons, holding a small ball will help to prepare his hand for the correct playing position. The ball should be small enough for him to wrap his fingers around in a curved position, but large enough that his fingers aren’t touching. (A $1 bouncy ball from Dollar Tree will do the trick!)
Learning Good Posture and, um… Sitting Still
Help your child understand what it means to sit with his back straight and his legs not twisted into a knot. His teacher will be thoroughly impressed if you get this one down. ;)
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And last, but not least… Remember that Your Attitude is Key.
You don’t have to be an expert in music to encourage a love of music in your child; you do have to have a love of music yourself. Your attitude and actions alone will make a difference. Your children learn what it important by watching what you get excited about. Watching you approach music with enthusiasm will show them that it is something to be valued.
“Make delighting in music a part of your daily life,
and your children will learn to delight in it too.”
Have any question or additional ideas? I’d love to hear them. Comment below or send me an email through my contact page.
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