Posts Tagged 'dancing at home with your child'

Fun Ways to Beat the Heat with Music

Mom Singing with ChildSummer is over as everyone heads back to school, right? Wrong! Well, half of that is completely untrue for us Austinites. Even though our “fall” schedules tell us it’s over, the heat of summer is going nowhere fast. If you’re in need of some fun ways to beat the heat and survive the sticky, icky, moody late afternoons and weekends, let music be your guide!

I have two words for you: DANCE PARTY! This is a highly underrated, useful activity that can be done indoors, yet can be incredibly active, burning off energy, and elevating mood for grownups and kids alike. Parents, as we constantly say to you in class, the more fun you’re having, the more fun your little one will have. Get nostalgic with your song selection; have fun creating a special dance party playlist, bust out your favorite hip hop from high school, or the songs you danced to at your wedding, then push the coffee table out of the way, close the curtains, turn up the AC, and let loose! If you’re head-banging or tush-pushing around the living room, having a silly blast, there’s no way your babies, toddlers, and preschoolers won’t have a great time watching—and most likely will be inspired to join in, too!

Along similar lines is a jam session. We do this in class every week with our play-along ritual, but make no mistake; this can be just as active an experience as the dance party if you let it. Again, you’re the leader. While setting your kid in a pile of instruments, putting on their favorite music can be great, it is much more engaging if you’re actively involved too. Sometimes (when they let you), you be the DJ and play your music and go nuts on that bongo like you’re the drummer from Def Leppard. Some other ideas for jamming are: use kitchen wares or unexpected toys as instruments, get crafty and make your own instruments, be a parade and march around the whole house, or find a spot in front of a mirror and make silly, intense jam-faces. Like the dance party, this can last a good long while if you’re having fun too, and can use up some necessary end-of-the-day energy when the park is a no-go.

Another idea is: water play!! Of course this can be outdoors, in the pool or sprinkler, but you can make a fun water play station inside on those days you can’t bare to go out again. Perhaps you run an early or extra bath (in swimsuits?!?), maybe you bring chairs or stools to the kitchen or bathroom sink, or put towels or a blanket down on the floor and get out a big kitchen bowl or laundry tub and fill it with water! Most of our Music Together collections have at least one song about water, like “I Had a Little Frog” from the summer collection, or “Canoe Song” that we’ll be doing in the Fall Session. Rhythmically splash and sing along to these of course, but honestly, any song can be a water song! If “Ridin’ in the Car” is still a favorite—make it about a boat instead of a car. If one of the many train songs pops into your head—pick up all the water dwelling animal bath toys you have and train them around the water.

These ideas are fairly simple, and require nothing but tools you already have, mostly being: you. Remember this on these endless sweltering days and beat the heat with music!

Vanessa Heilman
Certification Level I, Music Together Teacher




The Softer Side


When I think of making music with young children, some of the first things that come to mind are bouncing, clapping, drumming, shaking, lively, upbeat songs and activities. While these are all valid, playful, developmentally appropriate ways to engage musically with children, lately, I find myself interested in the more mellow side.

This session, I’ve been struck by the incredible focus drawn with some of the slower, softer songs. Be it the song itself, the activity, the contrast, the community, I’m not exactly sure, but I am sure there’s something special in this end of the musical spectrum. For example, “She Sells Sea Shells”, many of us agree that there is something almost magical about this song, right? In my classes it nearly always stops children in their tracks and the concentration is palpable. Multiple parents have told me stories of being emotionally moved, and that they enjoy listening to their young children play with and sing this melody. I’ve witnessed very accurate contouring and pitch from a lot of children independently singing this song. I can only imagine how much more of this happens at home!

A couple of recent successes in the Drum Collection for me have been “Arirang” and “Sneak and Peek”. I’m inspired by the attention shown in the children during a very fluid, controlled, slow, Tai Chi-like movement, and a careful, secretive, rhythmic, tip-toe sneak, with singing that is barely audible. Of course, it’s not the doing it “right” that these activities are successful, or even in the “doing”. Success to me is in the light of the eyes and demeanor, the absorption and the turning wheels – that’s the language of music being unlocked.

I challenge you to observe your child during the quieter aspects of music making and look for those kinds of successes. Then encourage them by creating opportunities at home, perhaps starting by:

  • Singing or humming softly while playing or during daily activities; maybe the same song or melody goes with the same activity.
  • Turning on classical music while awake too, not just for sleeping!
  • Making a playlist of just laid back faves (yours or your child’s) to play in the car when the mood is right (or needs to be!).
  • Modeling slow movement or dancing with and for your child; remember you are your child’s most important musical teacher!
  • Using scarves or flowing fabric to show smooth rhythm visually.
  • And of course: singing calming, soothing, bonding, bedtime lullabies!

Vanessa Heilman
Certification Level I, 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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