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This is NOT just an oatmeal box ~ it's a DRUM! It's a SHAKER!

Even if your child is pre-verbal, this is the perfect time to to make music a part of his/her life!  So many classes, workshops, and events begin in September.  The weather is perfect, so you can enjoy music both outdoors and in.

Don’t wait!  Drop by a music event!  Listen to a street musician!  Attend a kids’ music class at your local library!

There is no need to wait until you think your child is “ready.”  Check it out!  Your child is undoubtedly capable of enjoying music right now, regardless of his or her age.

How to enjoy music with your child

Give your child pots and pans to bang on with a wooden spoon.  You don’t have to invest in a percussion set.  And pot lids make great cymbals!

Make a drum out of an oatmeal box!  Put pebbles or barley inside to make a shaker.

Play recordings and clap along.

Sing!  Don’t worry about whether you sound “good enough.”  Children love the sound of a parent’s voice.


Maybe your child wants to run around the room while music is playing.  Or jump.  Or skip.  That is all fine, too.  Movement is a wonderful way to experience music.

Allow your child to play the piano.  Praise the effort.  Guide your child if you like, but never say that s/he is wrong.  Instead, ask which note s/he likes best.  Ask him/her to play loud, soft, and in the middle.  Fast.  Slow.  Up.  Down.  Right hand.  Left hand.  Both hands.  Now play with your nose!

Sit at the piano with your child.  Encourage him/her to sound like an elephant.  Sound like a bird.  Sound like an elf.  Imagination required!

Remember to help your child explore.  This is about having fun with sound.  It’s about discovery, not perfection.

You do not have to be a musician yourself to participate in music with your child.  I had a 12-year-old student whose mother would sit down and listen to her practice piano.  The mother was always encouraging, and my student never noticed that mom wasn’t a musician.  It didn’t matter.  The mother was there.

Make a “violin” or “guitar” with a box and rubber bands.

Fill glasses or bottles with varying amounts of water.  Play them with a spoon and listen to the different pitches.  Make up a song!

A comb and waxed paper make a wonderful kazoo to hum with.

Rent “The Sound of Music,” “Mary Poppins,” or any of a myriad of other movies with music kids will enjoy.  Disney movies are great ~ in “Snow White,” the objects on the mantle are animated in exact sync with the music!  (When I saw “Snow White” as a college student, I was still impressed.)

I once saw kids sitting on top of a mailbox and standing along side it.  They played it like a drum.  Each part of the mailbox made a different sound.

Have you taken your child to a parade lately?

Make music a daily event

Remember to keep the discussion going.  When music is part of life every day and not a once-a-week class, for example, your child will be alert to sounds and musical opportunities.  It’s so much fun to see that happen!

How do you explore music with your child?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!


Learning a new piece? New program? Back in school? Looking for teaching ideas? Then this is the perfect time to read “Goal-oriented Practice: How to Avoid Traps and Become a Confident Performer!”

Goal-oriented Practice

August 2011 review by pianist Robert W. Oliver

When You Buy a Piano

How to Maintain Your Piano

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