Growing Musically

As parents and teachers we don’t need to be ‘musical’ to give children a good start. The secret lies in our enjoyment, enthusiasm, and confidence. Here's what you can do to help your children grow musically ...

Enjoy Music in Your Own Life

Enjoyment is infectious. Take time out to really listen; feeling, responding, dreaming, singing or moving, being present to the music in a fully engaged way. If we really appreciate music, our children will also.

Grow Your Own Confidence

It's not about being a better singer. Your voice is just fine. Young children don’t judge us by our singing ability. They usually think that mum and dad’s singing is the best. So just do it, and know you’re doing well. We all can sing, chant and make funny sounds. Simple is fine, and most kids’ songs are easy to learn. The more we make music the more confident we become.

Enjoy Variety

Expose your children to a wide variety of musical styles then, as they grow, they'll have more chance of finding the music that makes their hearts sing. A household with a musical mono-diet, even of classical music, is not benefiting its children as much as one with a varied diet. Take the children to concerts performed especially for children; some of these are provided free by your local library or council. Seek meaningful experiences with a wide range of quality music: rock, jazz, classical, blues, hip-hop, gospel, dub, reggae … we have it all on site.

Daily Musical Moments

'Musical moments' can be as simple as enthusiastically singing a few lines of something from the radio, doing a few dance movements, or spending a few moments with an instrument. Other ideas include singing a phrase in a humorous, operatic style instead of speaking it. For instance, using the first notes of Beethoven's 5th, sing, "Time for your bath".

In tuning in to our children, we are also tuning into ourselves, our rhythms, emotions, voices, expression, imagination and creativity. This empowers children to enjoy doing the same.

Support Each Other

Join forces to get a few do-it-yourself music sessions started. Talking with other parents about what we’d like to do can be enough to get our daily musical moments happening. Get together to sing, shake, rattle & roll with a neighbour or friend from playgroup: it costs nothing!

Seek out what's being offered in your local community. Community music sessions for babies and preschoolers are a great support to parents. They are usually relaxed and friendly with a format of learning through play, which is excellent for under fives. Classes at this age are fun for everyone.

See that Kids Listen to and Play Music - Not Just Watch It

Offer stimulating alternatives to the screen. Think one step ahead so that when you hear, “I want to watch ...” you can quickly suggest an alternative activity – drawing, trampoline, helping you chop the veggies, fold the washing etc. Have a selection of CD’s that the children can enjoy as they play or as they settle at night. Play music in the car and sing in the bath.

Keep it Simple

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn directly through their senses. Hands-on is always best, movement is natural, sensory learning is of the essence. Remember our heritage. What did our ancestors do, being more musically active than we are today? Sing with your children on your knee. Rock them to sleep - they way it has been since the dawn of time.

Things to Try

Action songs are fun. Do the movements together. Play a music game or two. Remember Ring-o-rosy and the Hokey Kokey, Incy Wincy Spider, and Where is Thumbkin? … of course you do!

Borrow a selection of children’s CD’s and nursery rhyme books from the library. Providing a good variety, they can be a great help in deciding which titles to buy.

Try using props to build your confidence, e.g. sing Old McDonald with soft toy animals, or a farm animal picture book. Dance with ribbons or dance around a pot plant that is posing as a mulberry bush.

Make musical instruments available. If you ‘can’t play,’ remember you're on a level playing field with your children. Play a shaker or tap out a rhythm on a drum or tambourine. If there are no instruments in the house, try the traditional toddler favourite - the pot and wooden spoon! Have fun!

They say of Larry La Price, who wrote the Hokey Kokey and died peacefully, aged 93, “The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into his coffin. They put his left leg in, and then the trouble started ..."