You don’t need to be an expert in music to teach your children about it. You just need to do a little bit of research and you both will learn a lot!
I think it’s important to teach my son about music because Creativity is one of the traits I think will help him be successful in life. I wrote about teaching Traits and Skills that contribute to lifelong success in my article Skills to Build. I also think music helps make history and other cultures more relatable.
For young children, I always want to break subjects down and start with their most basic elements. I can use that as a foundation for deeper exploration once the basics are mastered. Here is how I broke Music down for our Homeschool Music Curriculum:
- Elements of Music: Pitch, Rhythm, and Tempo
- Basic Instrument Groups: Wind, Percussion, and String
- Common Instruments: Piano, Violin, Drums, Guitar, Trumpet, and Flute
- Broad Musical Cultures: Asian, Latin, European, and African
- Basic Musical Periods and Styles: Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Folk, Country, Blues, Jazz, Rock, and Rap
This adds up to 26 potential lessons or roughly one lesson for every two weeks in a year. So about every two weeks we explore a new musical topic. I’m sure it will actually take longer than a year since we’ll probably have “off” weeks.
Here are 13 ideas to help your child learn about music:
1. Find music that represents the topic and listen to it during meals and throughout the day. While you’re listening, find opportunities to talk about your observations about the music.
2. If you don’t have access to the real thing, look at and color pictures of instruments.
3. Watch videos of instruments being played on YouTube, so your child can learn to associate the look of the instrument with its sound (I love YouTube).
4. Practice miming how to play different instruments with your child.
5. Watch videos on YouTube of different musical styles and music from other cultures (Did I mention that I love YouTube?).
6. Look for opportunities for your child to have hands-on access to instruments and in person viewings of people performing music.
7. Listen to the music playing in stores and in the car and ask your child what instrument he hears. My son got in the habit of just pointing out instruments that he heard, without me even asking.
8. Practice making different rhythms with a drum or rattle with your child. Help her make the rhythm and then let her try herself.
9. Invest in a xylophone to explore pitch. Contrast high and low notes and try to sing along to emphasize the pitch. Play a game where your child reaches up to the sky when you play a high pitch and touches the floor when you play a low pitch.
10. Make your own instruments to explore different cultures. In our Latin American lesson, we learned about quitiplas from Venezuela on YouTube (did I mention how great YouTube is yet?) and then we made our own with plastic cups. It’s a lot of fun as long as you aren’t prone to migraines. You can also make a horn out of a rubber hose or a rainstick from a paper towel roll. Search online and you will find some awesome projects.
11. Explore moving in different rhythms and tempos. We hold hands and run across the room in different tempos and I showed him how to step, step, cha-cha-cha. It’s one of his favorite things to do now and it’s pretty hilarious.
12. Listen to music and clap the beat together. Or tap your toes.
13. Provide some inexpensive instruments that your child can play with. My son loves his BluesBand Harmonica. They’re very inexpensive and it has really helped him develop an understanding of pitch. We’ve even given them as gifts to several of his little friends. There are lots of other kids’ instrument sets that are low-cost and really fun, too. Just take a look at your local toy store. There really is no substitute for hands-on experience.
There are a million fun and easy ways to learn about music at home. I hope these 13 suggestions will help get you started.
What ways do you learn about music with your kids? Please share your ideas!