As a classical musician music used to be my life. Before I had L I made my living playing with a symphony orchestra and teaching flute, piccolo and piano to students of all ages. Now I have a daughter instilling the pure joy and love of music in her is one of my top priorities.
Not only can making and listening to music be joyful but it also helps development in many other areas.
Here is an excerpt from The Benefits of Using Music with Young Children by Gari Stein
Literally Speaking: How Music Supports the Development of Reading Skills• Children with a strong sense of beat are more likely to read well.
• Music stimulates all the senses, helping children learn to recognize patterns and sequence.
• Early music exposure helps children learn by promoting language, creativity, coordination, social interaction, self-esteem and memory.
• Singing games support children’s need to socialize and play, instead of “pre-academic” skills.
• Music helps “wire” the brain, supporting a higher level of thinking.
I thought some of you may be interested in what L and I have done together and also what I do in my preschool/toddler music class.
Melissa and Doug Band in a Box
Since the day L was born I was constantly singing to her and making up songs about what we were doing. Every time I would get her dressed I would sing "you put your left leg in you put your left leg out" etc. We would listen to all types of music and dance around the house.
Once L got old enough to hold things we got her some little shakers to experiment with on her own and also with music playing. For her first birthday she was given the Melissa and Doug Band in a Box. We had such great family times playing these instruments with different world music with all types of rhythms and instruments. Right from the beginning I told her the correct names of the instruments and showed her how to play them properly and with respect. We have also learned about all of the instruments of the orchestra and she can now point out different instruments she hears when listening to music.
Here are a few games we play together now L is a bit older.
- L hides behind the couch and I play an instrument. She has to tell me which one I'm playing(this is easy for her) then we switch
- L loves to sing as much as I do and we always change up the words of the songs to make jokes or make them appropriate to what we are doing at the time. This is hilarious and she is much better at it than I am. She now makes up her own songs and teaches them to the rest of us!
- Clapping words. We've been doing this for a while now. It is great practice for later reading and understanding how words are constructed.
- I'm also slowly introducing L to playing the piano. Once we've progressed a bit more I'll do a post about it if anyone is interested.
The music class that I teach has children ages 20 months to 3 1/2. Here are some of the things I have been doing with them.
- We also start every class clapping our names. The older ones have gotten really good at this and we've moved on to other words. Some popular ones are watermelon and hippopotamus!
- We use different animal puppets to act out and sing along to songs like Old McDonald and Slippery Fish
- The children play percussion instruments and we sing a song where they play them fast, slow, loud and soft. We also sing a song where we name the instruments the different children are playing and allow them to play a solo so we can all hear what the instrument sounds like.
- They play instruments along with the piano and when I stop they all have to stop. This is great fun and as the lessons progress the children get really good at it. Even the little ones.
- I've also just introduced some wind/blowing instruments such as recorders,harmonicas,whistles and kazoos. The children have started repeating simple rhythms that I play on a recorder.
- Along with the regular action songs we sing Down By the Bay. To start off we all sit on the floor and slap our thighs, first the right then the left creating a beat. When we've got that going we start the song. This is a great way for children to learn about rhythm. L does this with many songs she sings, keeping a perfect beat even in the rests.
- The ever popular dancing ribbons. So easy to do and so much fun. Just tape a length of ribbon to a Popsicle stick or something similar. Put on your favorite music and move your ribbon in circles, zig zags, figure eights and whatever else you can think of.
These are just a few fun and easy activities that the children love. If anyone is interested in more of what we do just let me know. Happy music making : )