10 Ways to Help Your Child Develop an Appreciation for Music

Most parents hope that their children will grow to develop a love, or at least and interest, for music. But how do you go about fostering that interest, especially if you don’t have any musical training yourself?

Fear not!

As a parent, there are a number of things you can start doing right away, and some of them you may already be doing without even noticing it!

So let’s jump right in to our 10 methods and techniques to help you instill a love of music in your children.

1. Stop & Listen

We’re always told to stop and smell the roses, but what about the sound of wind through the trees? Or the distant sound of a plane flying high overhead? Or trucks on the street? Or even the blender? Teaching your child to stop and listen to the music of world around them can help them tune their ears and deepen their appreciation of sound in general.

2. Sing to Them

Studies have shown that singing to your infant can have an amazing positive effect on stabilizing their moods when they’re fussy. Kimberly Sena Moore writes in Psychology Today, “Even if you feel like you can’t sing or you are tone deaf–that doesn’t matter. Your baby does not care. Your baby loves your voice and feels connected to your way of singing, regardless of whether you sound like Mariah Carey or a first-round American Idol contestant.” Try keeping this up beyond their first few years, and sing and play (if you happen to play an instrument) as often as you get a chance to.

3. Finish The Rhyme

One fun game you can play with your kids is to sing a sentence to them, and ask them to sing a rhyme back. As an example, you could sing something like, “It’s time to go get some food,” and your child will think really hard for a minute before singing back, “Make sure that it’s something tasty and good!”

Singing poetry on the fly can help give kids a small and simple idea of what songwriting can be like, and gives them a greater appreciation for lyrics when they hear them on the radio. This game also challenges their vocabulary, and feels like a competition as they try to be clever, fast.

If you need a little bit more of an example of this game, look no further than Andre the Giant in the classic film The Princess Bride.

4. Don’t Limit Your Musical Selection

There is definitely a place in the world for children’s music, like the Wiggles, or Dan Zanes, but there’s no need to stick your kids with just those. Think about expanding their musical experience as early as possible. Play them some classical music, jazz, Elvis Costello, and your own favourites. Just make sure the lyrics are age appropriate first.

5. The Voice, American Idol, YouTube

Talent shows like these might not be your thing, but they are a great way to introduce your children to the world of music. A lot of the contestants themselves are practically just kids, which makes them relatable. Even if your children are a little too young to fully grasp the competition, they’ll most likely enjoy the range of performances, both in genre and skill. Check out more performances on YouTube.

6. Concepts

You can also help your children start to learn about the basic musical concepts by isolating different parts of the music on your stereo. For example, try turning the bass all the way down, so they can hear the thin, tinny sound of only treble. Then flip it and crank the bass all the way up so they can feel the rolling vibrations of the bass-line.

If a song has an intriguing drum beat, or a great guitar track, point it out and get them to focus on that sound. This can help them start to understand how all the individual parts come together to make a song.

7. Teach With Song

Using music to teach is amazingly common, even if you don’t really think about it. We use The Alphabet Song to teach our ABCs, Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes to review body parts, and more! Music has been a proven tool to help kids memorize facts. In fact, for people studying English as a second language, singing pop songs has become one of the most popular ways of learning the language! Teaching with music simply works, so make up songs for whatever you’re helping your kids with at school. Make up a song about multiplication tables, or their spelling list, or history homework, or really anything!

8. Musical Associations

A lot of songs sound the same, or have really similar elements. In fact, there have been lawsuits over it on occasion. Teaching your children to recognize these connections can be a fun game that will also help expose them to more music, and build their appreciation for it. You can even try playing them two different songs from the same artists to see if they can connect the stylistic dots and recognize they’re the same band.

9. Start a Family Band

I’m not talking about forming a traveling group like the Partridge Family, or even The Monkees, but no matter what your musical ability is, you should still try to jam with your kids every once in a while. Grab some easy instruments, like hand drums, bells, shakers, or even xylophones or harmonicas. If you do play an instrument, then you can lead the jam sessions, but even if no one in your house has ever even picked up an instrument, you can still get a raucous and fun session going. Put on some music, turn it up, and have everyone clap, bang, sing and dance along.

10. Take Them To Live Music

Bringing your kids to experience live music cannot compare to listening at home or in the car. The vibrations in the very air are different from those created electronically. There’s a whole mood involved that is much more profound.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to fork over hundreds of dollars to go to a packed arena show. Whether it’s friends, a local act, a festival, carnival, or just someone busking on the corner, stop with your children and have a listen when you hear someone with talent. The experience will leave an impact like nothing else in music.

Conclusion

You don’t need to be a music teacher, or even have any experience at all to take advantage of these techniques – all you need is an appreciation for music that you want to share. And when it comes to spending quality time with your children, there are few things as educational, entertaining, and enriching, as sharing the magic of music.