This post is the second in a series. To read Part I, click here!
Guest Post by Sarah Fassman
Sarah Fassmann is a mom of two, cellist, a piano teacher, an early childhood music teacher, and a new Suzuki violin parent. She loves hiking, canoeing, singing, and playing the piano without any children crying.
Active Music Making With Your Baby: Part II…
Even very small children can enjoy and appreciate music-making. They are noisy creatures! And they love doing it with a loved one even more. In Part I, I gave suggestions for having an interactive musical experience with your baby or young toddler through singing together.
In this segment, I hope to give you some inspiration on actively making music on other instruments and helping your young child appreciate other musicians. Being actively involved in your young child’s musical discovery can help them improve their social and communication development—and their musical ears, of course!
Here are seven fun and interactive musical activities for young children to get you started!
1. Babies and young toddlers love making noise with toys and instruments. Don’t give a child under six months too many noisy toys, as the baby may be overstimulated. Your child will especially love making music with you.
They love drums and rattles, triangles and jingle bells, pots and pans. Make music together while singing songs and provide safe, age-appropriate musical toys for them. Just because a toy lights up and makes music, doesn’t mean it benefits your child. A simple musical instrument toy will ignite creativity in your child.
2. Play the piano together. Hold your young child on your lap. Demonstrate how to gently play the piano. Remind them calmly that we don’t use toys, feet, or pounding hands. Point out the white keys and the black keys. Explore high and low sounds. Make long and short notes together. Pretty soon, your child will be climbing up onto the piano bench on their own to “practice”!
3. Show your child your instrument and teach them how to treat it respectfully. My children both encounter my cello about once a month (I usually practice cello at night). They love to hear me play the cello! Once they brought little chairs over and listened to me play for almost five minutes. It was adorable! When children see you making music, they want to make music.
A note about practicing. It is almost impossible to find uninterrupted time to practice yourself when you have little children. Granted, I am not a professional musician (and if you are, you might consider hiring a sitter to watch your children or make some other arrangement for them), but I do try to practice the piano daily and the cello three times a week.
If you practice during the day, find the time that they are the happiest to play on their own, and practice then. My children are fine playing on their own after they eat breakfast. I can usually get 20-30 minutes of piano practice in each morning.
I’ve also been surprised at what they can sleep through at night (this probably wouldn’t work in an apartment). Pull out your instrument after they go to bed—they probably will sleep through it! I usually practice my cello 30-45 minutes after they go to bed, and haven’t had any problems with them waking up.
Other, Less Active Musical Experiences
Listening to music is a wonderful thing to do with your child, even if it isn’t actively participating in it. To make it more active, talk about the music, move to the music, and attend live music events.
4. Point out different instruments, interesting musical concepts (simply, of course), or the way the music makes you feel. Hum a melody line or tap a rhythm. You can also ask your child what they hear when they start to speak.
“Wow, I just loved what the cellos did there! It made me feel a little sad (make a sad face), but it was just so beautiful. Can you hear the cellos? (hum the part)”
“Hey, I think we heard this same melody at the start of the song! (hum the line)”
5. Have a few songs to interpret together. An obvious and very fun choice is “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” by Edvard Grieg. Even if your child cannot walk yet, you can run around with them in your arms and they will love it.
6.Attend festivals in your area. There is usually music all over at a festival. It’s a great way to introduce your child to different musical genres and instruments. Be sure to drop a few coins in the hat of every musician you stop to listen to!
7. Look at your local symphony or city’s arts department and check out their children’s events. There may be concerts in the park, ballets for children, or instrument petting zoos that you can enjoy as a family.
Active participation in music takes effort, but it should be fun! You don’t have to do everything every single day. But being consistent with the music, being excited about making music with your baby and toddlers, and showing them the joy that comes from music will bring about benefits beyond a musical ear. Your child will grow socially, improve their communication, and learn more about their world. And I think you will probably have fun, too.
Have you tried any of these techniques with your children? What other musical activities do you share with your family? We’d love to read your ideas in the comments!
Part II has been published! You can read it here!
Are you a Suzuki Teacher? Subscribe to our teacher newsletter, and we will send you a weekly email with updates to the blog and our free parent education pdf, What Every Suzuki Parent Needs to Know, for you to use in your own studio.
This content is restricted to site members. If you are an existing user, please log in. New users may register below.