I sometimes think if music remains one of the under-explored things for young children, at least in India. One of my friends living in Europe had once sent me a video of little children rhythmically playing big drums in her child’s school. I haven’t heard of any school in India doing that. For many kids in India, music begins with nursery rhymes and phonics and extends to perhaps movie songs and instruments if they are trained for one.
From 1st to 30th April, I write one post a day on The Things that really matter to Children. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the complete list of posts in the series.
V for Voice of Music: Creating Musically Enriched Lives for our Children
We amuse infants with the sounds of rattles and our voices. But what do we do when they begin to pull things around the house, bang kitchen utensils on to each other, on the floor, on the walls, furniture? I’ve seen parents and especially grandparents who find this noisy and hide the utensils from the child’s view.
Of course, children enjoy nursery rhymes and learning phonics. But are children deprived music of a sort anything other than rhymes and phonics? Parents of today are eager to introduce phonics to their one-year and two-year olds. How would it be if they showed the same eagerness in developing the natural musical skills in their children?!
Scientific researches favour babies to be exposed to music even from the womb stage. Music enhances the overall development in children. As a matter of fact, young children can grasp musical abilities more effectively than older children.
Related reading: Tuning in to musical rhythms: Infants learn more readily than adults
Create opportunities for the little children in your house to explore music. I am definitely not an expert in this subject. But since we don’t have a television at home and less screen time for the kids, I generally look for ways to make them connect to music. Here are a few interesting ways I’ve found to nurture music in children:
Sing – to your children, with your children, and alone: The most effective way to introduce music to your children is you singing. When the boy is back from school, I play songs from Gaana. I have different playlists for different moods of the home. Despite listening to a number of songs, the only songs they tend to sing along are the ones which I sing. I often get amazed by how my two-year old can pick up the lyrics of the songs that I sing. She can even complete tunes which I silently hum to myself in the kitchen. Swapping the original words in the songs with names and words from the family is a fun of its own kind. Above all, I make a proof that you need not be a great singer or have exceptional musical sense to do it!
Create a music box in your home: Like how you’ll have a bookshelf for children’s books, create a music box for basic musical instruments like play drums, xylophones and anything you like to include. It’s not about original instruments of high quality but small things that can make music in the hands of your children – marbles, strings, coconut shells – you can be as creative as you can.
Schedule a music time with your children: You have a time for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. You have a time for reading books to your children. You have a park time for playing. Similarly, plan a music time with your children. During the music time, open your music box to create music. It maybe nothing but a noisy time in the beginning. But do it regularly, you will soon see your house turn to an opera.
Make DIY musical instruments: If you have an innate interest to explore music, create simple DIY music stuff like a cajon box out of cardboard r wooden material from your home. Remember music isn’t always about learning through a structured course. Wild musical exploration through things around us can be enriching experiences to your children.
Focus on rhythms: Children can easily get amused in the world of rhythms. Clapping, tapping, hopping step-ups, step-downs, rhythmic movements – there is a variety of innovative ways you can enjoy rhythms with your children.
Chant: Every time I chant a devotional hymn, my children sit on my lap and follow the way I tap my hands on my lap. No, they are not always that good. They’ve torn the pages from my prayer book, made me stop my chanting – of course, as children they are capable of making disasters. But, I make an effort to chant against all odds and my chants are the first devotional words they ever learned.
Pitch-matching Practice: If you are serious to get your child into music and if you have a decent music sense, learn about pitch-making. It can be done on infants of 3 months too.
As I said, I am not an expert. If you have a rich musical atmosphere in your home, please share in the comments about things that you do with your children. I would love to hear.
There will always be a voice in our children’s heads – voices from so many sources! Let us add the voice of music into the list.
List of posts in the Series