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Teach Your Child the Basics of Music

“If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.”
African Proverb

Kids and music go together! One of the pleasures of being in the world is the sound of clapping hands and singing voices. Humans have been making sounds and inventing ways to produce sounds since the beginning of time. Whether it is the beat of little hands on pots and pans or the discovery of being able to whistle, music is a delight to the ear and to the soul.

Music is good for your child. Music:

  • Develops listening skills
  • Helps develop neural pathways in the brain, laying the foundation for language and math skills
  • Allows kids to express their emotions and physical energy in healthy ways
  • Gives children a way to connect with their natural desire for beauty, spirituality and harmony
  • Teaches them the natural order that exists in Creation and introduces the concepts of harmony and cooperation

Teaching your child the basics of music can set the stage for a lifetime of enjoying and making music!

Preschool

Many parents purposely expose their baby to music even before birth. Babies can hear in the womb, and what better way to introduce them to earthly sounds than by these early experiences.

Preschoolers delight in song and dance. Finding kids’ songs is very easy on the Internet or in a local music store. Letting your child listen to a lullaby before sleep or wake to a lively Latin tune sets the mood for what comes next.

Of course, one of the best ways to experience music is to make it yourself! Anything can become a drum- from a shoebox to your toddler’s own knees. These ways of making music, which come from music teacher Sarah at “Real Life Blog” will also teach your child some music fundamentals:

  • Do “sirens” with your voices, going as high and as low as possible. This teaches “pitch”. Draw waves on paper, going up and down to follow the highs and lows you produce.
  • Let your child listen to CDs of other children singing. When a child only hears an adult range of notes, they sometimes fail to develop the upper range of notes that children produce so well.
  • Talk about the difference between high and low and soft and loud so they learn to discriminate between them.
  • Make up words to familiar melodies as you go through your day-just for fun!
  • Sing or play a musical phrase and ask your child to repeat it. This develops memory and an “ear” for music.
  • Create your own instruments from household items, or buy an inexpensive recorder for early success at making music.

Above all, have fun with music!

Main points to address:

  • Children naturally love music. Give them many opportunities to hear and produce sounds.
  • Music creates learning pathways in the brain, enhancing language and math development.
  • Early awareness of pitch and volume can be taught now.
  • Let your child hear the voices of other children.

Grade K-3rd

Kids this age have been listening to, making, and moving to music for years! They are ready to learn the language and basics of music. Very simply:

  • Pitch is the highness or lowness of notes on a scale.
  • Volume is how loud or soft sound is.
  • Tempo is the speed of the notes in music.
  • Rhythm is the pattern of sounds and silence in music.
  • Notes are the pitch, or location on the scale, and the duration, noted by shape of a note on the scale.

Adding musical terms can be done as they grow older and as they need them.

Music lessons are often started at age 6 or 7, but there is no harm in starting earlier or later. It is important to go with a child’s inclination and trust their interests, rather than impose your own wishes. Expose them to many instruments and kinds of music. They will tell you what attracts them. If you cannot supply music lessons, many schools offer instrumental lessons and all schools sing.

Expose your child to many kinds of music- from classical and jazz to rock and roll and gospel. Experiencing many kinds of music will make them aware of the rich diversity in the world.

Main points to address:

  • Use the musical terms such as pitch, volume, rhythm, notes and tempo.
  • Provide music lessons if you can afford it, and if your child shows an interest.
  • Not all children are gifted in music, but all children can enjoy it.

Grades 4-6th

Older children will have formed definite preferences for certain musical styles. Provide opportunities when you can for your child to experience music, either recorded or live.

If your child has begun music lessons, set a scheduled practice time and give them a day planner or calendar to record practice sessions. A small reward could be offered for a certain amount of total minutes. After a while, if your child has embraced the instrument, you will no longer need incentives, as playing it will be its own reward.

If your child has been gifted with a singing voice, or if they just enjoy singing, make sure they get to sing. Joining a choir or chorus group can be fun and builds self-esteem and cooperation.

Adding new terms and some of the specifics of music composition can be done now. In brief:

  • Notes played in succession with intermittent pauses make up music.
  • Notes are written on a scale (treble clef for higher range, bass clef for the lower range), and are assigned a value (whole, half, quarter, eighths, etc.) which indicate their length.
  • Where they are placed on the scale determines the pitch of the note.
  • The time signature tells about the beat (top indicates how many beats per minute, bottom tells how long each note will last).
  • A staff consists of five parallel lines on which you place notes.
  • A measure is a “chunk” of the staff.
  • Composers arrange notes in ways that create music.
  • Harmony is created when two or more notes occurring at the same time sound nice.

Phew!

Music can soothe, excite, inspire, relax and some say even heal. Make sure your home is filled with music at least some of the time. Sing, dance and enjoy!

Main points to address:

  • Older children will develop definite musical tastes, and possibly a preference for the piano or other instrument.
  • Continue to provide opportunities for your child to experience music.
  • Help your child by setting a time for practice. Don’t overdo!
  • If your child enjoys singing, make sure they have a chance to sing within a group setting.

Resources

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Education.

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