By Kathryn Brunner, Founder of Musik at Home, LLC
Does your child show signs of musical talent?
Put more simply, "Does your child love music?"
During the early years, desire reveals talent. It's that simple.
In the first post in this series, I explored what it means to dream big for our children in music. Dreaming gives us a pathway for leading our children into musical growth opportunities.
When we set our sights high for them, it’s much easier to keep our mind in the game for giving them opportunities to help foster their love of music.
How do we inspire musical talent?
It’s all about giving our children opportunities to explore music from a young age!
Here are six ways to help your child grow in musicianship in the early years.
1. From birth, give your child the chance to hear as many different genres of music as possible.
Introduce your child to classical music, gospel, folk, jazz, pop, rock, etc.
Your child will naturally begin to gravitate toward the styles he or she likes best. This begins in infancy. Infants love to hear a variety of sounds.
2. Play with your voice as you talk to and sing to your child.
Musician and Author, Dr. Joanne Haroutounian, in her book “Kindling the Spark: Recognizing and Developing Musical Talent,” recommends two ways to use your voice playfully with infants.
First, she says, “While rocking an infant in a quiet room, first speak in a normal way then in a light singsong quality, and finally sing a nursery rhyme or lullaby. Do you notice any change in attention and awareness as you change your mode of communication? Which mode elicits the most attentive response?”
Second, she recommends looking for musical awareness in the crib. She encourages parents to “place a CD or tape player near the crib and experiment with different types of music, observing your child’s interest and awareness of these sounds. Do you see a direst reaction when the music begins? Is there any reaction when you turn the music off suddenly, in the middle of a musical selection? You may enjoy noting different reactions to music that is fast versus slow., loud versus soft, high in pitch versus low, or instrumental rather than vocal.”
Here is my daughter playing with her voice at 2 months. You'll hear me giving her sounds to imitate. She does it innately. Babies respond amazingly well when prompted.
3. From birth, give your child the opportunity to play with instruments of all kinds.
Simple instruments include a rattle, rhythm sticks, jingle bells, scarves for creative movement, sand blocks, tambourines, etc.
In our classes here at Musik at Home, we explore several of these instruments together with over 400 musical activities in our class library.
4. Make music in your home on a daily basis (or as often as you can)!
Sing a song first thing in the morning, when you clean up your home, or when nap time is coming. Get my song routine charts here to help you incorporate music into your day.
5. Read about music! Read about composers!
Here is a post on 5 musical books you can explore with your child right now.
6. As early as possible, let your child touch and explore real, full size instruments!
You can do this by going to a music store, a musician friend’s home, or asking a leader at your place of worship if your child can have a tour of the musical instruments used in the services.
Show your child the guitar, piano, violin, xylophone, trumpet, trombone, drums, etc. Auxiliary percussion instruments are especially fun to children such as maraccas, bongos, congas, djembes, clash cymbals, whistles and found objects in the home.
Lastly, why is instrumental exploration important? Does it really have a strong influence on musical growth?
I’m so glad you asked. ;-)
As a music teacher, I can confidently say it is extremely important.
Yes, instrumental exploration does influence musical growth.
Here's a real life example.
I have interviewed hundreds of children for beginning piano lessons in my 18 years of working as a piano instructor.
In each interview, we begin away from the piano sitting on the floor with singing and rhythm activities.
When we approach the piano, I can tell immediately which children have had previous experience interacting with the piano and which children haven’t.
For children who have never touched and explored a piano, there is often a “space out” effect when they approach the piano and begin to try to make sense of all the black and white keys. When they begin lessons, they do not climb the learning curve quite as fast as the children who have had exposure to the instrument. They do, however, on the whole, catch up quickly once they have an instrument at home!
For children in my interviews who have a piano they have been exploring regularly at home, they are immediately ready to receive my instruction and do so with a greater level of comfort during the interview and in lessons.
The more interaction a child can have with musical instruments, the better!
What will you start with first?
Will you let a dream for your child's musical growth find a place in your heart as you move forward with these musical opportunities for growth?
Read the first post here: How to Inspire Musical Talent #1 - Dream Big!