Because music can be so instrumental in the development of children’s minds and abilities, here are a few ways to add music to a child’s life. Increasingly, there has been evidence presented that children perform better in math and the language arts while being exposed to music. Here are a dozen easy ways to add music to your child’s life.
• Play all types of music on the CD players throughout the house. Basic CD players are inexpensive so make sure most rooms have one. Play classical music during homework and reading time; play soft music at bedtime. During playtime, turn off the television and play peppy bluegrass or classic jazz. During dinner, play soft jazz or opera for a better dinner experience for the entire family. On Sunday mornings, play gospel music while getting the family ready for church.
• Sing with them and to them. Sing lullabies to babies, and practice old American folk songs with toddlers and older children. Join children’s choirs and youth choirs at churches. Practice hymns with children.
• Begin lessons while they are in the primary grades. Piano is the obvious first choice for an instrument. You can find used pianos, and some keyboards can sound just like a real piano. I however, recommend a real piano for lessons-a used one is better than the most expensive keyboard for early learners, in my opinion.
• Take advantage of free concerts and musical performances. Many local festivals have free concerts. Keep an eye in the newspapers for free gospel concerts at area churches.
• Encourage reading about the composers while listening to their work. There are many short biographies available at bookstores, online and the local library on such greats as Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Bach, and Schubert. Play a CD of the master’s work while they read the biography. You can do this with jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and even popular artists such as Elvis Presley.
• Check out discount stores and discount aisles for CDs. We have found some of our greatest classical treasures at stores like Big Lots or the clearance aisles of major discount chains. Christmas CDs are always a treasure to keep and can often be found right after the holiday and saved for the next year.
• Encourage group musical activities. Involve the entire family. If different family members play instruments, have a monthly family concert. Join other musical families for a group dinner and ‘jam session’ a few times a year.
• Taking lessons? Integrate into family events and the holidays. There are many simple arrangement books out there for Christmas songs and other holidays. At family reunions, load up the keyboard, guitars, banjos, and fiddles. We have done this my entire life, as my father’s side of the family all play stringed instruments. It is the highlight of the yearly reunion.
• Check out your local library for music. Music CDs can be absolutely free! Many libraries have extensive musical libraries these days with fantastic selections of CDs. You can burn a copy for your own personal use. I love to download them onto my laptop and then download them onto my I Phone. I have really built up my computer’s musical library this way. Keep in mind that you can in no way sell copyrighted material such as this. Any duplication must be for personal use only.
• Attend area theatre musicals. Many cities have little theatres which often have musicals with local performers. The prices for performances are usually very reasonable. Particularly at Christmas, you should be able to find several local music performances. Churches also have cantatas and love everyone to attend. Every child should attend the Nutcracker at least several times during childhood. Who knows? Your child may be the star of such local productions with a little encouragement and exposure to such events.
• Plan for a symphony performance. You will probably have to travel to a nearby larger city for such a performance. The symphonies used to travel to small towns, but with the economy this has become rare these days. There is no experience like a child’s first symphony performance. I have never seen a child that was not amazed by the many instruments, all in cohesion.
• Fully utilize school music programs. In the midst of recent budget cuts by public education systems across the country, music and art have suffered the most. But where once is offered, take full advantage of it. Band programs teach children so very much. Marching Band really should be labeled both music and a sport, or at least count as a PE credit.
Try this dozen. These ideas will lead to more of your own creative ways to include music into your family’s life. Music does breed creativity and intelligence, after all.