So, you want your kid(s) to have an appreciation for music? Here are a couple of tips we’ve adopted in our home to share music with our kids in an open way. Our kids are developing tastes all their own that tell me they will be enjoying music for a long time.
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- Be a music lover. Really, all you need to raise a music lover is to be one yourself. You don’t have to have fancy musical instruments, or be a professional musician. Just enjoy your music and include your kids. Explore music with the wonderment of a child.
- Don’t be pushy about music. Let your kids listen to the music they want to listen to. In our household, that means we listen to Wiggleworms or They Might Be Giants‘ “Here come the ABC’s” cd, on repeat, all day. The kids do puzzles while listening to music, they dance, and play. It’s part of their day. Forcing them to listen to anything you consider “good” music might defeat the purpose. Setting limits can be made, but choose your battles: no swearing, for instance, still can include a lot. Saying, “No lame music” will confuse your kids and give them the impression that you won’t love them if they don’t listen to the music you like. Also, pushing musical instruments is more likely to move them further from appreciation. Have instruments on hand for when they are curious.
- Listen to a wide variety of music–kids will notice that you have a preference, but letting them become fans of a type of music that isn’t your favorite allows them room to develop their own tastes. In time, they might actually listen to and enjoy the same music you love so much. Listening to music may not increase their IQ, but they may be inspired by what they hear.
- Take your kids to see live performances. Classical, bluegrass, indie, you name it. If you live in a city like Chicago, you have a host of options for free concerts. Sit in a place where you can talk to your kids during the concert. They’ll have questions and comments. Trust me.
- Make sure they make the connection from music to dance. Granted, this is coming from someone with a dance degree, but take heart. Kids, who learn about the world through their bodies, will naturally be drawn to music that makes them want to move. In other words, dance with your kids. It’s a great way to connect with them, enjoy some music and exercise.
The lowdown on instruments
If you want to give your young child an instrument that sounds beautiful the minute it lands in their hands, pick up a Kinder Lyre. They are tuned to the pentatonic scale, so no matter what order they pluck the strings, they achieve a melodic, ethereal sound. It’s very peaceful.
Our kids play it from time to time. Some other instruments we enjoy include a ukulele and a toy piano. Beware of battery operated pianos. Kids are less likely to sing along if there’s already a song playing automatically. Oh, and the xylophone is too loud for me so it only gets pulled down periodically.