Sunday, July 13, 2014

Music - First Instrument Exposures

Exposure, exposure, exposure is what the first years are all about! Of course your little miracles will be reaching all those wonderful developmental milestones (at their own pace!) but academically speaking, there's no rush for skill mastery at this stage. What's important is to introduce them to the world around them and to the things they will be able to do.

With that in mind, my focus today is music. I feel like the arts are often overlooked in favor of literacy, math and science but to me they are equally important to a child's growth and development. Even the preschool curriculum I used a few years ago skirted over the arts a little. There were plenty of specific activities designed to teach math, literacy and science skills but music, art, creative movement - all of that was left up to the teacher. And honestly, we often ran out of time in the day to do much in those areas. So now at home with my own little student, I want to make sure we bring the arts into her life.

Luckily both my parents, especially my father, are very musical and so their house is full of various instruments. Little C has been introduced to a number of instruments, most frequently the piano and guitar.

Little C doesn't need anyone to play her a masterpiece, it's just enough to show her how the instruments make music and let her explore. I'm not sure we ever really talked about the sheet music but eventually she started plinking on the piano then asking us to turn the page for her so she could play some more. At home we have a xylophone, this adorable B. Toys drum/instrument set and a ukelele. We have an electric keyboard and a guitar in the basement that I really want to find a place for where Little C can have access to them!

So my tips today are:
  1. Let your child make music, even if it sounds like a bunch of noise to you! If you need to, invest in a pair of earplugs.
  2. Try to provide exposure to as many instruments as possible as soon as children are able to hold themselves up and manipulate toys. You can purchase children's instrument sets or allow them supervised exploration of real instruments. If you don't own any I bet you can think of someone you know who does! We've never been, but I've heard of "instrument petting zoos" where symphony orchestras allow children to touch and try various instruments so look up and see if there's one in your area. There are also many DIY instrument ideas you can find for making your own drums, maracas, guitars or tambourines. And, if all else fails, give them some pots and pans and wooden spoons to make their own beats and rhythms!
  3. Show your child sheet music, even if you have to find some online and print it out. Introduce them to basic music terms like notes, high, low, adagio (slow melody), allegro (fast melody), piano (quiet) and forte (loud).
I don't mean to promote TV watching, but Little Einsteins on Disney Junior is a FANTASTIC show when it comes to arts exposure. Each episode has art of the day and music of the day and throughout the episode children are introduced to various instruments, musical terms, singing and dancing. I have to give Little Einsteins full credit for Little C sitting down at her drum the other day, starting to play and saying "I play adagio!" I melted a little at that moment :-)

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