Archive for August, 2012

5 Ways to Make Music at Home

As a Music Together teacher, I am constantly inspired by both the adults and children in my classes. I am amazed to see how the children in my classes react to various activities and also how they grow musically over time! While these events are exciting to observe first-hand, I am just as interested in how music is being explored outside of the classroom.

It is important to model musically for your child at home just as much as you do in class. One thing that you as parents and caregivers can teach your child is the disposition, or the desire to make music. If you’re not sure where to start, try these five simple tips. You and your family will be veteran music-makers in no time!

1. Try making up rhythm or tonal patterns after listening to a song.

  • These “call and response” patterns can provide tons of fun for you and child. Go ahead and try it and see if your child repeats you.  If your child is willing, give him or her opportunities to make up rhythm or tonal patterns for you to repeat. If you get stuck, you can use the rhythm and tonal patterns that are already on your Music Together CD’s!

2. Make your own play-along instrument box.

  • Instruments don’t have to be fancy or expensive. You can make instruments out of just about anything! Tupperware containers, wooden and plastic spoons, plastic bottles and plastic bowls, and other household items double as fantastic instruments. Try sealing up some rice or beans in a container for an instant shaker! Take that old cookie tin and use it as a drum!

3. Dance, dance, dance. 

  • Put on your favorite songs, groove to the beat, and blow off some steam! If you need inspiration, try out some moves or use some songs from class. Use apps like YouTube, Spotify, or Pandora to build kid-friendly playlists or radio stations! Build these dance sessions into your nightly routine,  before bathtime or bedtime.

4. When in doubt, sing it out!

  • Getting your child dressed in the morning can be tough. So can convincing your child to clean up their toys. What about getting your little one ready for bed at night? Not always the easiest, right? Use music to help you with these daily challenges! Use a familiar tune and make up your own words to help with the task at hand. Sing your toys away (“Bye-bye toys!”) or belt out a tune about your child’s outfit (“Meg’s wearing a blue dress, all day long!”) while dressing them for the day. Music is a powerful tool that can help with these sometimes taxing transitions!

5. Lull your child to sleep.

  • After a long day, there is nothing better than winding down with a nightly lullaby. Even if you don’t love your voice, know that your child does. Many of us adults have vivid memories of our own parents singing us to sleep when we were young. Singing a lullaby is such a simple way to soothe your child, bond with your child, and make musical memories that your child is sure to carry with her for the rest of her life.

Meg Roy
Music Together Teacher

Learning by Observing

We are getting ready for our Fall collection, Fiddle.  Many of you will make the decision to re-enroll based on how your child acted in class during past semesters.   Was she having fun?  Did she run around the room the entire time?  Is she getting anything out of it?  Did she participate?  Or a common concern; she used to participate, but doesn’t anymore.

Changes in the level of a child’s participation may seem problematic and sometimes even frustrating.   It doesn’t necessarily mean she is not having fun.  This is natural and even necessary for a child developing a sense of self-awareness through music.

I led a class recently in which two older children were enrolled who were both of a similar age.  The other kids in the class were a bit younger than they.  Both children participated throughout the semester, apparently no different than the other kids.  However, towards the middle of the semester, both children seemed to stop participating, sporadically.  They would stop singing, stop moving and sometimes stand perfectly still.  It may have seemed as though they were not interested during stretches of each class.

What was really happening was that each child began watching the other closely.  While one would sing, the other would stop singing or moving and stare at the other child openly observing.  Then they would switch.  The other would sing and move openly and the first would openly stare.

Children do start observing more as they become more aware of their surroundings.  When this happens, they may participate less in class.  Your child might notice that her own singing and moving don’t always match what she hears and sees around the room.  By carefully evaluating what she hears, she learns to adjust and refine her own musical expression.

It is common that a period of intense observation by a child precedes what some call a musical ‘break through’ in reaching basic music competency.

Don’t be discouraged by a seeming lack of participation!  Your child is learning from observing others and more importantly, by observing you enjoying singing and dancing.

Becca Myers
Music Together Teacher

The Joy of Family Music

Heartsong Music teaches Music Together®, the internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through grade two and the adults who love them.

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