3 Things to Super Charge Music Time for Early Learners
Wondering how to make the most of Music Time with your early learners? Wonder no more as you find three things to super charge music time in 5 minutes or less.
I decided to invite my talented music friend, Tamsyn from Teaching Children Music to equip us with all the details of teaching music to our early learners. She does not disappoint and she gives us all the ins and outs to Music Time fun with little ones. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I have and be sure to check her blog which is jam packed with wonderful resources to make your early learning music journey easy and fun.
The art of communication is the most complex skill a tiny child will learn during the first few years of their life. Not only do they learn to speak, they also learn to interpret emotions, express empathy, and how to interact with and during different kinds of social environments. The intricate and sophisticated way humans communicate is what sets us apart from the other species. Music is unique because it is both an advanced and simple form of communication all in one. Music time for early learners is one of the easiest things you can do to give their social skills a boost, so let's get started.
Before I dive into some tips for music time with your young child, I think it is important to understand and remember what makes music, well, musical. Of course it has to do with sound, but what sets *music* apart from any other sound? First of all, there are a lot of opposites in music. High and low. Fast and slow. Loud and soft. These are fundamental basics that anyone can teach their child regardless of their musical experience. But these are only elements of music, we're still missing something.
Music is built with patterns. Kind of reminds me of math! Patterns of speech. Patterns in rhythm. Patterns in musical phrases. Patterns are what enable young children to grasp musical concepts, what make it so engaging for young children. Have you ever read a story to a two-year-old again, and again? Why doesn't it get old? It is because every time they hear the story, their brain is making more connections. The patterns of music make it easier for children to find those paths, making "Twinkle Twinkle" more memorable and enjoyable than a typical story book.
Here are a three quick and easy activities you can do with your children to help them develop their musical abilities.
Pick Storybooks that rhyme.
Poetry and music share the element of meter. Children love games like Pat-a-Cake because of the rhythm and rhyming words built into the story. There are thousands of children's books out there with a rhythmical sound built right into the storyline. One of my favorites is "Jazz Baby" by Lisa Wheeler.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can also get a storybook taken from a song, and sing a book to your child instead of reading it. Some of my personal favorites are "Puff the Magic Dragon" illustrated by Eric Puybaret, "God Bless America" illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, and "Ten in a Bed", which has many different versions available.
If you were to ask a conductor whether they would rather have a rhythmic mistake or a pitch mistake, they will take the pitch mistake every time. Granted, obviously both should be avoided, yet rhythm stands supreme as the most important element of music to master, as well as the most difficult.
For an adult, walking with a steady rhythm is usually second nature, even if the person feels they are unmusical. For a tiny child, it is something that needs to be learned. Even if they are stable on their feet, the very name "toddler" comes from the uneven way these early learners get around. They toddle.
This is where games like "Pat-a-Cake" are especially beneficial. By taking the child's hands and moving them as you play the game, you are giving their whole body a sense of rhythm, one they cannot experience on their own quite yet.
As their physical skills develop, the next step would be to play simple rhythm games with a steady beat, moving on to introducing basic rhythmic notation.
Sing with your child.
Just do it. You are not on a scary stage, it's not an audition. You are in the comfort of your own home with a child who wants nothing more than to spend time with you. By singing to and with your child, you are teaching them that singing is an enjoyable activity, which it is. No matter your budget, your voice is an instrument you carry with you everywhere you go, and they as well. While my heart goes out to the mute, the vast majority of us have a voice and singing is a beautiful way to spend time with your children. Nursery rhymes are a great place to start. I'm also very fond of Emilie Poulsson, who wrote a huge collection of songs for early childhood in the late 19th century, available in the public domain. Because this is a math site, here is a counting song to get you started.
While there are a growing number of great resources to help you teach your children music, from apps, YouTube videos, websites, books and movies, and so many of them are fantastic, the best advice I have for getting started is to do exactly what Lacy's series suggests- set aside 5 minutes for early learning. A song here, a rhythmical storytime there, and march along with a steady beat. Make it a part of your routine. Melodies themselves can communicate, without words. Sing a clean-up song when you put away the toys, a nursery rhyme while you wash their hands. Every little bit helps. Need a little more? Have you read ALL of the rhythmical story books? How many of the classic nursery rhymes do they know? Now is a great time (the best time?) to give them a rich vocabulary of song, drawn not only from popular culture, but also from your heritage. Sometimes the simplest things really are the most powerful.
About the Author: Tamsyn Spackman is a musician and homeschooling mother of six. She blogs at www.teaching-children-music.com.