Making Music Together
Chances are good that you have found yourself dancing around the kitchen with your child. It's fun, it's an excellent way to exercise, and it's good for your kids and you. When music is turned on, even the youngest children respond.
An infant's developmental path for learning musical rhythm is similar to that used in language and speech. Rhythm in music, pattern and beat, are very similar to rhythm, pattern and beat in language. Language rapidly develops in late infancy and throughout toddlerhood. Music may be another tool in promoting this rapidly developing skill. Rhythm and beat also provide opportunities for movement (don't you love to watch an infant or young child “bob” to the music), which support children's acquisition of gross (large) motor development.
How do you introduce children to the world of music in a way that is going to be fun and enjoyable for both them and you?
- Read a story and use a piece of music as a “soundtrack” to the book. Pick a favorite story (you know, the book you read and your child says “again!”) and an appropriate piece of music (a piece of music that reflects the tone of the story). An example might be to use Haydn's Symphony No. 94 (more commonly known as the “Surprise” Symphony) in reading Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig's “Angelina Ballerina” book. Read this book, and perhaps others from the same series, accompanied with the Haydn “soundtrack” of music each time.
- Creative movement to music! Music doesn't just have to be for sitting and listening. It provides a wonderful opportunity for expression. Try out different pieces and get up and move. Explore tempo (the rate or speed of a musical piece) by encouraging your child to move fast or slow, according to what they hear in the music. Explore pitch (highness or lowness of sound) by having children move low (crawl, slither, scoot) or high (jump, on tip-toes, walk upright) according to the sounds they hear in the music.
- There are quiet times and there are music times! Playtime is a great time to introduce music by simply providing it in the background as children play. Whether involved in playing house or a family board game, try a little music. You may be surprised what your child responds to.
- Integrate music into other arts experiences. From drawing, to painting, to collage, music provides an extension of other arts activities. With a prompt from music, children can be encouraged to draw or paint how they feel (another great way to help children express their emotions when sometimes they are struggling for their words).
- Musical literacy! Try composing a piece of music with your preschooler or young school-ager. Think about all the sounds you can create (clap, tap, stomp or even use some basic instruments or create your own “Stomp” ensemble with your kitchen pans, etc.). Come up with a symbol (maybe a shape or letter) that stands for that specific sound. Write out these shapes/symbols, just as you would write out a sentence. “Read your composition,” creating the sounds each symbol stands for. You have just composed your own musical masterpiece! This activity is a great assimilation to literacy development and recognizing that symbols put together equal words and sentences.
And finally, just listen for enjoyment. Expose your child to different music to let them learn something new!