Music has always been a big part of our home, but since we’ve had our Creative Baby, it has become an even bigger piece of who we are as a family. We are not professional musicians by any stretch of the imagination, but music is something we just can’t get through a day without. Since he came home, music has been playing throughout the house for Kingsley – and I’m not talking kid’s music. We play very little of that.
Here are ten ways that you can expose your baby, or toddler, or kid, to music more than you might be now:
10. Make instruments and music yourself. Shakers, drums, whatever – you can build it and explore with it. Almost anything can make a noise, and noises make music. Explore!
9. Move the TV out of your main living space. By getting rid of the soul-sucking TV, you’re opening up so many more opportunities for exploration. Granted, you may not have anywhere else to put it. I get it. We used to live in a house like this. We now have a rec room space downstairs where our TV is, and it has made an incredible difference to how we interact, how much music we listen to, and how much music we make together.
8. Have instruments around – and use them! So you’re not a musician? That’s okay. You don’t need to have guitars and
ukuleles and a piano. Maybe you’ve got an old midi keyboard from when you were 10. Maybe you’ve got a shaker. Whatever you can get your hands on, have it around, and make a point of using it with your little one. Kingsley regularly tickles the piano keys ever so gently, and bangs on the Jambe drums we have in the living room.
7. Learn an instrument. Yes, you, oh perfect adult! You can’t sing? You CANNOT PLAY? I don’t buy it!! Youtube is an amazing resource. I have even posted some Ukulele tutorials. There is a lot of learning that can be done for free, through the online communities or through friends. You don’t need to be a performer, or amazing, but you should be willing to learn and to be vulnerable for your baby. This is going to model for them how your “growth mindset” allows you to take risks, have fun and continue learning for your whole life!
7. b. Play that instrument with your kid in your lap! Talk about bonding!
6. Build a Youtube playlist of your favourite songs and music videos. We often listen to the Sesame Street Celebrity videos (particularly Bruno Mars’s “Don’t Give Up!”, Will.I.Am’s “What I Am” and Usher’s alphabet song). I know that earlier I said to not watch stuff, and to listen to music instead, but life is about a healthy balance. A music video here and there isn’t going to ruin any lives.
5. Play music in the car – and sing along! So fun. A colleague told me that when learning a song we were putting together to sing for our school on the last day, she played the song over and over in the car every day. Her son (kindergarten) knew the words before she did! My own kid (age: one) cries if we put on Talk Radio, but is happy if there’s music.
4. Play music on walks. This is pretty easy for us because there’s only one other house on our country road. I turn up the volume on my phone and play music, and Kingsley sings along and claps his hands. If you’re in a high density area, this may not be something you want to do!
3. Find live music. It could be a busker, or a kid’s show, or a concert in the park. Always remember to be sensitive to your new human’s delicate ears.
2. SING and dance. Creative Mommy will be the first to tell you that she isn’t a musician, but it hasn’t stopped her from learning to play some chords on the guitar, ukulele and piano, or from singing along when I pull out the guitar or ukulele for a sing along. When we are both singing and playing, Kingsley looks like he is in Heaven!
1. Play music. Yeah, I’ve sort of said it. BUT … It seems simple, though so often we turn on the TV for noise, or just have nothing going. With music, there is nothing to watch, so the focus is on the sound, rhythms, beats, melodies … which can be enjoyed while playing, cooking, making art, eating – almost any activity. Try out a variety of music, too – just because they’re little doesn’t mean it has to be all Itsy-Bitsy-Spider. Play top 40, your favourite hair bands, or even classical. Exposure is key.