February 26, 2013

How to Help Your Kids Learn and Love Music

By Melissa
Intro by Amy

My cousin Melissa is one of the most down-to-earth, relaxed people I've ever met.  She is so fun to talk to, warm, and friendly; that's why I love hangin' out with her!  She's a great momma and lives out in the boonies with her husband and 3 adorable girls.  And, let me tell you, she plays the cello like you wouldn't believe.  Seriously, I feel like crying when I hear her play.  Yo-Yo Ma better look out for this momma!  (Confused? Google him.)  I'm super excited that she agreed to write about music, because she is an expert!  Really, check out her Swaggin' Lady bio, cause she's got some amazing experience.  

I was especially excited to hear what she had to say about music lessons for kids, since I spent two years crying through piano lessons till my mom let me switch to a children's choir.  I LOVED it and continued singing in choirs and small groups all growing up.  Now I sing musical numbers in church with my husband; it's super fun to see our son get excited about music too!  

So, from a musical pro....learn and enjoy! 

This is for anyone who has an influence on children whether it be your own, niece/nephew, or a neighbor kid. You can enrich the life of a child with music! I will be mainly referring to interacting with your own children, but apply it to your life accordingly. 

Sing to your children or if you play an instrument then play for them too. Let them touch it and be familiar with it. Sing songs that have actions too. Even if they can't sing words yet, they will pick up on the actions. Poems and finger plays are wonderful for establishing rhythm. You could even have the child make up their own melody for a poem or finger play. Dance to the music! It is such a wonderful way to interact with and internalize the music. You can make homemade instruments. Shakers are great! Fill up an empty spice bottle or baby food jar with rice or beans. Use some plastic bracelets and tie ribbons onto them. They are wonderful streamers for kids to wave around to the music. 

Don't get stuck in a rut with one kind of genre. It's like feeding your kids the same food at every meal. Explore with your child many different kinds of music. There is so much out there! You may not even like it, but guess what? Your kid might LOVE it! It also gives you an opportunity to check out some new music. The internet is so wonderful for downloading songs for pretty cheap. I was teaching Lydian about the seasons and she brightened up and said, “Yeah, like Carole King!” And she sang the lyrics to You've Got a Friend: Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall.... Yes, it turned out to be a teaching tool! 

Here we are preforming at a Summer Festival.  Lydian sang some jazz standard with her Daddy.

Listen to good music with your kids. Many folks may view “good music” as being a subjective kind of thing. I beg to differ. Personally, I believe there is good music and bad music. It depends on the message that is being sent through the music and also the artist that is producing it. Does it encourage you to be a good person? To have good morals? Do I want my child learning or repeating these lyrics? It's up to you. Use your own judgment. Music has a powerful affect on our souls and can help or hurt in shaping who we become. Always be on the look out for kid friendly concerts and music venues. Check out your local Community Orchestra. They usually have a Family Concert. Local school concerts could be an option too. Summer is filled with many opportunities to bring the kiddos along for some live music. It is so good for them to hear those live vibrations! How about a field trip to a music store and arrange for a staff member to show off the instruments they have there? 

Doesn't Lydian look inspired?  Chloe just had to have her own violin too!

Figure out a reward system. You know what's best for your child. What has worked for us is that the girls get a small piece of candy for a practice session. Then if they practice 5 days in a week they get a prize. Ie: dollar store toy, ice cream cone, movie night with popcorn. Keep it simple. Kids are easy to please. Wait, is this bribery?! Yes, yes it is. If your child hates to practice and you are yelling and threatening for them to practice, then stop. Maybe a different instrument would suit them better. They might need a break. Recently, my daughter Chloe was practicing violin and told me she didn't want to play anymore. I asked her if she wanted to play a different instrument. She quickly replied, “Drums!”. It totally made sense. She has always been very good with rhythm. A main concern with parents is that they will buy their kid an instrument and then they don't play it for very long and eventually give it up. In my opinion, it is never a waste to buy an instrument and invest in lessons for a child. It has shaped their brain and character in a positive way. 

 There have been many scientific studies that show great advantages to children who learned and instrument. It makes new pathways and connections in the brain. It is linked to better language comprehension and reading skills. Here are some links to articles about the effects of music and playing an instrument on the brain. This goes beyond what many know as the “Mozart Effect”. 

"Early Music Lessons Have Longtime Benefits"

"Music Tones Brain; Improves Learning"

"The Benefits of Children Learning Music"

Lydian and Esther
We have had great experiences with our kids playing music for family, friends and old folks at nursing homes. A child needs praise and encouragement and it is important to give them a good audience. The old folks at nursing homes are wonderful. They love some good music and they love children. Plus, this gives your child an opportunity to serve through their talents. 

I remember the day when Lydian played her first song, Hot Cross Buns. I called all the grandparents and had her play over the phone. They cheered and she lit up. They need to know that music is of great value. 

It's not all easy. There can be moments of frustration and trying everyone's patience, but in the end it is all worth it. There are times when they play or sing and then exclaim, "Mom, I did it!". That is worth it. My husband plays his guitar and sings to them at bedtime and they eventually end up singing along. That is worth it. They take that bow at the recital and come up with a beaming smile. That is worth it. 

Music has brought my family closer together. It is something that you cannot describe in words. It is an emotional and soulful connection. You can start music wherever you are in your lives right now! It is never too late. It is a bright light in our lives. Make it one in yours. I promise that you will never regret it. 

Good luck to you in your musical journey with children!

How have you encouraged your children to love music? 

Please let me know it the comment box if you have any questions!

Hey, ladies!  This is Amy...Did you love this?  Did you learn something new?  If so, then share with others using the buttons below! :)  Thank you!


  1. Thanks for the tips! I'm a violinist/pianist and I definitely want my kids doing music.

    1. That's great! I'm sure they love to hear you play. Keep it up!

  2. Music is really important to our family. My husband and I incorporate music into our home every day for our little girl (most of the time without even knowing it). When my husband comes home from school, he sits down at the piano and plays classical piano music for Miranda (our little girl). When I am taking care of Miranda, I find myself always singing to her--whether it's the ABCs, a random song I make up, or a real song (to which I will insert Miranda's name whenever possible, ha!). Miranda is still little, but she always responds to music by getting excited or calming down when she is crying.

    1. Haha...I put my baby's name into every song, too! I think our neighbors downstairs must want to kill me because I am singing to him (rather loudly) all the time. And...I didn't know Lorin played the piano!

    2. That's awesome! That's neat that you put your daughter's name in songs. She definitely recognizes that and it
      will draw her into the music.

  3. We just signed our kids up for piano lessons - they are so excited. I'm following you via GFC. I host Fluster Creative Muster Party on Wednesdays and I would love it if you would come by and party with us. Hope to see you there!

    Hugs, Smiles, and Blessings,

    Fluster Buster

  4. I love the way you incorporate music into your everyday lives! I've noticed that since my husband and I joined choir the kids have sung more, simply from our example.

    1. Oh good! I'm glad you guys are singing. I think it is great your kids are taking piano. That is such a great start!


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