Music without a doubt has a positive effect in the children development. Exposing children to music since they are born (or even before) has amazing results for the development not only of motor skills (coordinated movement and sense of rhythm for example), but also help to develop sensory skills, to educate more sensitive children (right and left brain skills), to calm down under stressful situations, to develop creativity and the most important effects for me: to build self-esteem and allowing children to feel they are being part of something special and beautiful.
As a music teacher and having a passion for music, many friends come to me asking about what they can do to introduce music to their children. Let me share with you what I do with my own children (6 and 2 ½ years old) at home.
1. Find a place at home to create a “music corner”: Buy some percussion instruments special for children, a xylophone, a flute, a small piano, a small guitar. There are plenty of music instrument specially design for kids that we can add to our music corner little by little.
Keep everything just in one place, organize the small instruments in a basket, make the area simple, clear and unique.
2. Teach your child to take care of the instruments: It is true they will want to explore with them in many ways (by touching them, shaking them and even sucking them when they are babies), but it is true also there are some rules to follow when we play with toys. We respect them, “we treat them well”, “we are kind with them” and we tidy up after using them. These principles are essentials in daily life and, of course when we are referring to music instruments.
Teach them how to use each instrument in a gentle way. (e.g. we shake or tap a tambourine using our hands. We don’t hit the floor or someone with it).
3. Listen to music with them: we can listen to music at home or in a car trip. We can watch videos or concert on the TV or go to a live concert as well. We can include all kind of music, nursery rhymes, classical music, modern music (taking care about the lyrics. It will be always better a song with a positive message rather that a negative one or a theme not according to their ages).
We can also include a violin concert, a piano concert, opera, drums, different dances (ballet, flamenco, tango, merengue, salsa, etc.) and of course “parent’s favourite music”. I truly believe that show children “our music” is a beautiful way to connect and share with them a part of our self.
4. Play music / Create music with them: it does not matter if we are the best or worst musician in the world, but I love the idea to create music with my children. We can play with them in our “music corner”, sing together, dance with them, clap our hands, add some percussion instruments, pretend that we have a music band, create songs to do the daily chores, sing a story (we can use the help of a story book as a guide), pretend that any (safe) object in the house can be a music instrument (a plastic pot, a pan).
5. Talk to your children about music, about how important music is for life. About instruments, about different styles, about the difference between noisy sounds and pleasant sounds.
When we listen to music, play an instrument or sing a song, we can connect with our soul, with our feelings, with our memories and with others. That connection can be beautiful if we make it beautiful.
In summary, we need to prepare an environment specially design for the child, to wake up their curiosity and allow them to explore on their own. We can show them different possibilities of music, we guide them, we are here to answer questions, to discover together, to play together and something very important to consider: If we want them to feel attracted to music, we should not force them to do something they don’t want to do.
Try some of these ideas at home. Incorporate them into your normal routine. Let yourself go with the flow and enjoy your time with your children through music, generating happy moments in a simple and beautiful way. Don’t miss the opportunity to introduce to your family to the wonderful world of Music. Go on!
About the author: Alejandra Aranda is a Chilean expat living in Dubai, Mom of two, BSc in Project Management, Positive Discipline Parent Educator, Music teacher, founder of the Kidslabmusic program (www.kidslabmusic.com) and founder of @thekidlunchbox on Instagram.