One of the most fascinating aspects of the preschooler (and baby/toddler) age is that they are learning all the time! So, to begin music instruction with preschoolers, you don’t really have to teach it to them, but just do it with them. Read on for five easy ways to “teach” music to your preschooler—you don’t even need to have a musical background! And to learn why you should have your young child exposed to music read this post at over Gena’s blog I Choose Joy!.
- Sing: One really great way to sing with your preschoolers is to use the adorable picture books of songs that you can check out of your library. Be sure to sing them to your child so they can learn the great, classic children’s songs such as “Twinkle Little Star” (simple melody line), “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly” (progressive, funny story), and “Rock-a-Bye Baby” (playful rhythms). After a few hearings, hopefully they’ll start singing with you! The sooner they can start trying to match pitch, the better. It might take a few years, but will be so beneficial in training their ears. Some of my personal favorite song picture books are “Over in the Garden” and others by Jennifer Ward, “Yankee Doodle” and others by Mary Ann Hoberman, and “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” and others by Iza Trapani.
- Listen to the Great Works: With the internet, it’s so easy now to expose your kids to the wonderful music of the past that is still considered great even hundreds of years later. You can find almost anything you want on YouTube or Spotify, so you don’t have to purchase any CDs if you don’t want to. It’s fun for the kids to watch the instruments playing the music on YouTube, but I also encourage you to turn on your classical station in the car occasionally as you’re driving around town. Here are a few favorites: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. Listening to classical music will help them lengthen their attention spans.
- Dance: Preschoolers love to dance. If they are light enough, hold them in your arms and dance with them! A great way to encourage them to use their whole bodies is to give them a scarf to dance with. (You can pick up some light material to cut into scarves at a craft store.) Model for them how to use their arms and try different movements with the scarves. A few really fun pieces of music to play are Hoedown by Aaron Copeland where the kids can gallop like horses and Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint Saens where the kids can act like lions, fish, birds, elephants, swans, and other animals. Along with practicing moving their bodies to the rhythm of the music, they are also working on gross motor skills.
- Play Simple Rhythm Instruments: You can find kits of kid-friendly percussion instruments—or you can even make some yourself! Some great instruments for preschool kids are rhythm sticks, shakers, tambourines, bells attached to a stick or band, and hand drums. Demonstrate how to keep a steady beat with the music and then play along together! I love to use these pieces which have a strong steady beat: Tchaikovsky’s March from The Nutcracker , John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever , and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. Learning to play with a steady beat is a basic component for playing an instrument when they grow older.
- Play Singing Games: Do you remember playing London Bridge, Ring Around the Rosy, and The Farmer and the Dell when you were little? I love using singing games to get kids to play and learn at the same time. They are learning to follow the rules to a game and will often start singing without even realizing it. Get the whole family involved!
Gena has been married for 15 years is a homeschooling mom of 8 blessings, ages 12 on down. She has certifications in early childhood music and movement, as well as undergraduate and graduate music degrees. You can find her blogging about homeschooling, homemaking, and her family over at I Choose Joy! and be sure to join her on Facebook as well!