Monday, February 15, 2010

Music time

I am not musically inclined. At all. So music, rhythm, and instruments tend to be more on the challenging side of parenting for me.

It's not that I don't see the value in music; I'm just plain not good at it. As the saying goes, the only thing I can play is the radio.

However, I was blessed with a child who DOES love music and who seems to be pretty good at it! I think most (all?) toddlers tend to enjoy music in some form or another, but please excuse my biased nature when I say I think I have a musically-gifted child on my hands. :) I have no idea where that will take her in the future, but I do feel it is my job to lay aside my own inclinations in order to foster hers.

One thing we have done is to enroll her in Kindermusik classes. It's a little too expensive to utilize every time a new semester comes around, but when possible, it's a fantastic winter activity especially. Once a week, it gives us a chance to get out of the house, play in a new environment, socialize, and run off some energy.

But if you aren't ready to enroll your child in a Kindermusik class, what components of it can you adapt for home play? Of course, being in a class has the added benefits of interacting in a group, learning to share, and practicing transition times among other things. But there's definitely some things we can do just fine at home (and do!).

Practice using musical instruments:
This does not have to be anything fancy. If you have a play musical instrument kit, that's a great start! If not, homemade musical instruments are often times the best kind. Fill small containers (old Tupperware, baby food jars, and plastic Easter eggs all work great!) with dried rice, beans, or macaroni. You might even try putting a different item in each one to let your child hear different sounds. (Plastic beads, cotton balls, and pennies are also handy items to create different sounds.) Put beans or other items inside a toilet paper tube and cover the ends with scraps of fabric, aluminum foil, or paper. Even just an empty paper towel or wrapping paper tubes inherently make great instruments!

Read books that have a pattern or rhythm as part of the story:
So much of music is following a pattern or a rhythm. In fact, research shows that early music experiences help lay a foundation for future learning, such as literacy and math. There are thousands upon thousands of great books out there that merry so well with patterns and rhythm. Some of our favorites include:
These are only a very small start to what is available out there!

Expose your child to different genres of music:
This might be a no-brainer! :) We listen to kids' music, but we also listen to regular music. We turn on a favorite CD of mine, a TV show soundtrack, or kids' music disguised as adult music. We also listen to the home CD from our current class (pictured above). Any of these are great for a different option from turning on the TV, and besides -- the energy it takes to dance around the living room is a great pre-nap work-out! :)

Explore various direction or motions to music:
The Kindermusik CDs are great for this, but as I've said, you can use any music you have on hand for this! Have your child follow along with the music by going fast and slow, up and down, straight and curvy, little movements and big, clapping and snapping, marching and tiptoeing, etc. You're only limited by your imagination!

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