I believe that all people have a natural instinct to enjoy music. When a good tune is playing I notice the baby bopping and the youngins wiggling around. My children will ask me to repeat a catchy tune over and over until they can dance no more. I enjoy dancing to good beats when I’m high on life (like these guys) or letting the soothing sounds of music heal my heart during difficult times.
Both my husband and I enjoyed the privilege of learning how to play a musical instrument growing up. My husband learned to play the piano and pipe organ. I also learned to play piano but my interests shifted to the violin five years ago. Music is an important part of who we are and we often find ourselves discussing how to foster an appreciation to music in our young children.
Even though our children are young we have noticed varying degrees in their musical interest. Our eldest son (5) has very little interest in singing and playing instruments. As a toddler he would never sing along at library story time. Instruments of all kinds don’t interest him but he does enjoy listening to music. Our daughter (nearly 3) is the complete opposite. I will find her singing to herself and playing little tunes on the piano throughout the day. Regardless of their interest there are several things we do to help our children foster an appreciation for music.
One of the most important aspects of music appreciation is exposure. My husband was exposed to the world of classical music through a piano teacher in his final year of high school. That year I noticed a sudden shift from techno-trance to the second piano concerto by Rachmaninov. It can be surprising how much a friend, family member, teacher or experience can influence music appreciation for ourselves and our children.
My husband, the classical music keener, brought Felix to his first symphony at the age of four. Felix only lasted until the intermission and generally didn’t enjoy any of it. He complained that it was too loud and kept plugging his ears. It was Mendelssohn’s violin concerto which is a nice piece of music. Undeterred by his lack of enthusiasm I brought all three children (just recently) to a piano performance performed by Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov. It was a matinee performance that was open to children of all ages. Felix thought it was rather boring (no surprise there) but didn’t complain about the noise level this time. My daughter was very intrigued by the contrast in the songs such as the shifts from quiet to loud and slow to fast. The baby just bopped around and chewed on my cell phone.
There is something special about experiencing music at a live performance but it isn’t the only way to expose your children to music. Enrolling your child in music lessons either in the form of Music for Young Children or private lessons can be a great way to develop musical appreciation. Some children might not be ready for music lessons until they are much older (like our son I think) but some children might thrive in this kind of environment. Another option is to enrol yourself in music lessons and to practice and play music in front of your children.
I think that it is important to explore music with your children. This can be done by listening to different styles of music in the home or car. Most people tend to prefer one type of music whether it’s country or classical, but it’s worthwhile to be open to other styles. Borrowing music CDs from the library or exploring the offerings of YouTube are good ways to listen to new genres.
Dancing to music with your child is great way to enjoy music. Some children really enjoy playing with silk scarves or ribbons while dancing. You can also explore music with your children by making some simple instruments. Check out my Homemade Music for Children Pinterest page for some ideas.
As you explore music be sensitive to the interests of your child. I try to follow the lead of my children while providing different opportunities to them. Even if my child doesn’t like a certain type of music or musical experience I don’t completely discount it. It’s like trying new food, it might take a while for the child to enjoy it.