What can you do at home with your children related to music?
Sing! Sing a special song when you are waking your children in the morning; sing a song or series of songs when they go to bed. Sing in the car; it makes a trip go faster. Sing to them to get them to do something! Sing to get their attention! “Lis-ten”, sung like the opening to “Nah, nah nah nah”, which is “so mi” in solfege.
Sing action and movement songs to your toddlers and preschoolers (slightly older kids have been known to love these songs). Songs include, but are not limited to, Do Your Ears Hang Low, Teddy Bear Teddy Bear Turn Around, The Wheels on the Bus, If You’re Happy and You Know It, I’m Bringing Home My Baby Bumblebee, Sleeping Bunnies, Hokey Pokey, I’m a Little Teapot, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Ring Around the Rosy and Old MacDonald Had a Farm.
You can make percussion instruments. You can buy small plastic eggs from dollar stores, Walmart or party store, fill them half way with rice, and after closing, tape shut along the seam with electrical tape (it comes in many colours and patterns!). Now your children have rhythm shakers when they listen to music! You can also fill small plastic bottles halfway with rice.
You can have a special designated metal bowl that is used just for rhythm (the bowl might suffer a bit!). Grab a wooden spoon, and voila! You child can bang away while you sing. To help your child with rhythm, you can try clapping along with singing. The beat is like a steady heartbeat. For example, while keeping the beat to “Twin-kle twin-kle lit-tle star __”, each syllable is a beat, and “star” is two beats or claps. Your child can also clap, jump, wiggle or bang the rhythm of a song, which is the way the words go; you are clapping or emphasizing each syllable of each word. For example, with “Twin-kle twin-kle little star”, you’d clap each syllable and on the word “star”, you’d just clap once.
You can pull out metal bread pans, put different sized elastics over the bread pan width-wise, and have your children twang away. For a special treat (when your children are older), pull out some wine glasses, line them up, fill them with differing levels of water, and then have your child wet their finger and rub it along the edge of the glass. Look up “playing music on wine glasses” and be in awe.
You can make balloon drums! Plastic containers don’t work well for balloon drums; instead, use metal, glass or ceramic containers. See balloondrums.com/howtomakeyourown.
Make your own rhythm sticks! You can use smooth dowels from a store that sells lumber, or one smooth dowel and one ridged one. Aim for eight to twelve inches in length. Children can keep the beat or rhythm on rhythm sticks. If you’re throwing out an old broom, cut it into pieces and make rhythm sticks. Just smooth the edges.
After you and your children have had fun with home made percussion instruments, consider buying a set of boomwhackers for a birthday or Christmas. Line them up on the floor in a line from biggest to smallest, or vice versa, and experiment! Hit the boomwhacker on your leg or a wooden floor (but never each other)! Try to figure out and play simple tunes like “Hot Cross Buns”. You can graduate to figuring out and playing “Row Row Row Your Boat” and “The Alphabet Song”. Do a search for boomwhackers on youtube and admire!
You can borrow music CD’s from the library and have your young children dance and move to the music! Try borrowing different genres.
You can borrow Sue Hammond’s Classical Kids CD’s or movies from the library! She has ten different audio CD’s, like Beethoven Lives Upstairs, two DVD’s, and several collections! I personally would start with the audio CD’s first! Have them playing in the background while your children play. For more information, go to classicalkidsnfp. You can have any music playing in the background when you are reading to your children or they are playing.
“But I can’t sing”. “I’m self conscious when I sing”. If you make an effort to start singing every day, you will be less self-conscious about it. If your voice is wobbling all over the place, try breathing in through your nose first, so you have a cushion of air supporting your voice.
As a piano teacher, I sing to my students. Maybe I am teaching finger numbers, or the musical alphabet (A through to G) singing the Alphabet Song. Children (and parents!) light up when you start to sing. And no, I don’t have an amazing voice.
Put a smile on your child’s face; sing!