Developing musical skills sometimes feels unattainable. How can I learn to sing if I don’t understand pitch, or clap along to my favorite songs if I don’t naturally feel rhythms?
On top of that, how can I teach these things to my child if I don’t get it?
Rather than worrying about teaching a technical skill like pitch matching or sight reading to your child, focus instead on making music a positive part of your home environment!
Try these ideas for helping your child develop an appreciate for music and learn rhythm along the way. Oh, and have fun:
- Play copy cat clapping games. A really easy game that requires no supplies and helps your child develop rhythm is a clapping game. First, you or your child claps a short rhythm, not longer than 4 beats. Then, the other person has to clap that same beat, or be the “copy cat.” It’s great for car rides, waiting rooms, or after listening to songs you love.
- Listen to your favorite music and move your body. Tap, clap, or just sway to the beat as an example for your child! Mercedes Paine Castle suggests, “Tap your child on the back in rhythm to the music as a way to isolate the beat.” For an extra challenge, find the micro or off-beats to clap along to.
- Find the rhythms in nature. Where I live, we can hear the songs of several different species of birds all day long. It’s extremely repetitive and rhythmic, and I enjoy identifying the different patterns. Find a park or backyard where you can listen to birds to identify rhythms with your child! Try repeating the rhythms by clapping, whistling, or tapping.
- Play the sticks. A simple instrument to incorporate in to your child’s play area is two sticks or blocks (like these claves) that they can tap together to a beat. If you’re hesitant about the noise, only take these instruments out during daylight hours when it’s ok to make noise or do it outdoors.
- Dance! Children love dancing, and of course they develop rhythm as they do so. Play a song with a strong beat and dance along. Try stomping your feet, swaying your hips back and forth, or nodding your head. All of these fun activities help your child feel and exhibit rhythm!
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