Make Time for Music
by Maxine Fisher
Music is a language, just like the ones we speak. Infants vocalize from birth and when exposed to music they participate in a variety of ways: by moving, making eye contact with the caregiver, vocalizing, and relaxing.
Although many parents and caregivers communicate through music with their children, some adults do not believe they possess the knowledge, skills, or confidence to share music with the children in their care. Many of these adults might have played instruments and sung songs as children, but somewhere along the way to adulthood they stopped.
How can we as parents and caregivers feel more comfortable and confident sharing music and musical activities with our children?
Music and movement are linked. Toddlers respond to and actively engage in music by making their own sounds and moving. Therefore, music aimed at young children should include some movement to be effective. Children understand emotional messages through music. You can choose a song your child likes and sing it with them and hold them in your arms or dance with them and you may discover the joy that singing and music bring to you and your child.
What are the musical preferences of your children?
It may depend on their mood. Try presenting the same song in different ways. Pick a song you are familiar with such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” You could sing it with a high pitch, then try a lower pitch. You could sing it fast, and then slowly. You could add a rock and roll beat with a tambourine or kitchen pot. You could sing it like a lullaby, soft and gently. Notice how your child responds to each different version.When do they look away? When do they turn towards you and sing or dance? Use the versions that the child enjoys and choose other musical pieces that incorporate the instruments and styles that your children prefer.
What type of recorded music should you play for your children?
The main criteria for using any recorded music is that it is quality music and age appropriate. Quality means that the instruments and voices sound great to your ears. Many of the Sesame Street Workshop recordings are a great example of terrific educational children’s music. Age appropriate means that the words are words that you would use with your children and that the content is child-friendly rather than meant for adults. There is so much music that falls into this category.
My four-year-old daughter loves the soundtrack from The Lion King
. She sings along with the African rhythms and knows each and every word and musical turn in the songs. Your children will surprise you with their love of all types of different music. Play recordings of any music that you love and also of music that you may not have listened to such as classical, jazz, musical theatre, and rock and roll.
Inspire yourself by going to a live musical event. It can be a concert in the park, a coffee house performance, a church concert, or a musical. If you become energized through music then your children will experience the positive difference when you share music with them.
For ideas, consider registering for a childhood music class. The goal of any early childhood music class should be to offer children an opportunity to experience movement and music that is meaningful, educational, and most of all fun.Maxine Fisher M. Ed., MTA has been working with children for over 16 years offering community music classes. She is also a music therapist in private practice. For more information, phone 250-686-7582 or visit letsmakemusicandmove.com.