Getting Kids Interested in Music
Tools for teaching children to love and appreciate music of all kinds.
Music has the power to bring you to your feet, bring you to tears and bring you back to a memory you had long forgotten. It is in that power that music has earned the respect of educators and why it is such an important part of a child’s education.
I am not just talking about the pop songs we all deny belting out in the car when we‘re alone. I am talking about classical, folk, blues, latin, jazz, opera and world music, to name a few. Getting children interested in all types of music and teaching them to love it like a great book is an amazing gift.
Music was all around me as a child from the classical operas my Dad loved to the classic rock my brothers relished. I was exposed to a wide range of music and grew to appreciate much more than what is on the radio on any given day. Now I want to give that education to my own children. As I look back, I realize I started pretty early. In the delivery room The Mozart Effect (Music for Babies) was playing on my iPod and, as the hours went by and the nurses changed shifts, it was the calming effect of the music I choose that helped me stay sane. Not only did all of the nurses, staff and doctors notice the music, one asked for the name of the CD to recommend to other patients.
Setting the stage for a musical child starts early and at home. Just like the piles of books you have on hand, expose your child to different music styles while eating dinner, while playing with blocks, during bath time and in the car. You don’t have to spend a fortune on dozens of CDs, either. There are great CDs at the library, stations on the radio, cable TV music and the Internet. Where I did decide to spend some money was for music classes. I found a local Music Together class (Joyful Music in Lexington) and enrolled both kids when they were 2-years old. They loved it. I loved the thought put into each class, the two CDs they give with a music book to follow and thoughtful ways to be involved with your kids in the class and at home. I always put one of the CDs right in my car and the other in the living room. My kids still sing some of the songs years later. In addition to Music Together, Lexington is fortunate enough to have the Lexington Music School and the Yamaha Music School of Boston. I plan on sending both kids for piano lessons when they are a bit older.
Another great way to engage a child in music is to get them (or make them) instruments. I like the Melissa and Doug Band in a Box and Deluxe Beginner Band set. That along with a kids-sized guitar and you have a concert in the making. My kids put on elaborate shows with a playbill, a stage, and costumes and made up songs. I caught my daughter on video playing the guitar and singing a song she made up. She sounded like a 1960s folk singer and she loved watching herself on the video. I also ask the kids if they can identify the musical instrument in a piece we are listening too. This is a good game in the car when they need to be distracted from a “stop touching me” episode. They also love to watch musicians play instruments and sing and the much loved Laurie Berkner Band DVD is perfect for that.
My Father and youngest brother had a nice tradition that I would like to start with the kids of going to concerts on a regular basis. Not rock concerts, but classical music concerts. I was impressed that at such a young age my brother wanted to put on a suit and listen to classical music with his Dad. Since my kids are a bit young for that, we opt for the summer concerts in the park that are more forgiving of meltdowns and potty breaks.
Now that I have set the stage for music loving at my house any additional music exposure, they get in school is icing on the cake. So the next time you turn on the radio or pop in a CD, think about listening to something new. Maybe you and your kids will discover that opera is cool, blues is uplifting and world music hits home. Happy listening, happy playing and happy learning.