Music brings joy to most children like nothing else. From the moment they can walk they start to dance, and sometimes before, I have seen three-month-olds just shuffle dancing around on their botts the minute their favourite song comes on. For a lot of children that comes with a natural love of making music and instruments. Embrace this time when your child is still absorbing new information like a sponge and encourage your child to play an instrument, it is a gift you can give them they can use for life. Although it might not seem like it when they can’t be bothered practising, they will thank you. Eventually.
There are music schools and classes throughout Australia designed especially for toddlers. They are all about exploring the instruments available and helping the little ones interact and stay engaged, incorporating singing, dancing, and using little shakers and drums. These classes are noisy and as a parent, you will be expected to be completely involved, but they are a lot of fun all while they are developing your children’s listening and basic rhythm skills. Also, keep an eye out for community events and local theatre productions of child-friendly performances. There are usually a few options over school holidays run by the local council and they are a great way to introduce your young kids to live music.
Even if you are not particularly musically inclined, you can still bring the joy of music into your home by playing along with your children in a music jam. Use any instruments you have (if you went to school in the 80s or 90s you probably have an old recorder or a tambourine somewhere) if not, make up some shakers with rice and empty water bottles, set up a bucket drum kit and some pot lid symbols and try and set a rhythm, or play along with their favourite songs. Family jams are a joyous activity to share with your children, however, I should warn you, trying to stop kids from using household items as instruments after you have shown them how, can and will be a challenge.
Invest in Lessons
Once your child is a bit older (generally around 5 or 6) and keen to learn a certain instrument, private lessons are crucial, firstly, to ensure they learn things in the correct order and secondly, to make sure they can see improvement in their playing quite quickly and don’t get discouraged. The accountability of attending every week gives children a focus and goal for the week and one on one sessions allow their teacher to focus completely on your little one’s specific needs. Most musical schools have an end-of-year recital where friends and family can watch them perform on stage, which is a fun event where kids can show off their new abilities.
Join the School Band or Choir
Many primary schools have music programs that include a school band or ensemble that your child can enrol in, this is a great way to get used to playing with a group and great practice for future performers. It can be a lot less daunting for kids to learn as part of a group and being around other musicians helps with discipline, honing technical skills and creates a team environment. Some schools offer private lessons directly after school or during lunch breaks which is a great time-friendly option.
Learning to play a musical instrument can be a great way to build a child's discipline and self-esteem but regardless of whether your child becomes a professional musician or decides to never use their skills, the appreciation of music and the joy it can bring to life is a wonderful thing to share with your family. Go little maestros!
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