I’ve always wanted to teach a love for music to my kids. Not long after Keaton was born, someone sent me a video of two brothers playing piano duets, and said “this could be your kids someday.” Little did I know 3 years later I would have another boy and the scenario that I really wish for is quite possible. I’m so blessed to have two women in my life that are excellent musicians and have passed on many tips on how to raise boys who love music and want to play. Here are some of the secrets that they have told me and we have started to do in our home. This post was updated May 2022
Teach by Exposure
Our kids have always been allowed to play our piano. Many moms come to visit and when their children try to touch the piano they say, “Oh no! Don’t touch the piano.” I want our piano as touchable as possible. I want them to bang it, play it soft, and experiment with fingers all up and down the keys. The only thing off-limits is to use a toy on the piano. Someone told me once, “If a concert pianist can’t break a piano, then a toddler can’t hurt it.”
Teach through Play
I have several kinds of percussion instruments maracas, tambourine, and some wooden clappers. We will sing and tap our instruments to the music. They also can use these when I play the piano and we sing together. I try to make this as much fun as possible. We will do little chanting adventures to a specific beat. These variations of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star are perfect.
Allow Them Join in
I also never forbid them from sitting with me to play. As soon as Keaton had any skills I taught him to pick out the notes to the song I was working on, so we can do a duet. I hope building a foundation of enjoyment for them in music. I know sitting with my mom and playing with her was an important first step in music for me.
We try to intentionally teach them to sing along to songs that we know we will sing at church so they can participate. Often this is done with quite a lot of scream-singing, and piano banging, but it gets the job done.
Visual and Auditory Resources
Our kids love watching Visual Classical Music. It uses color and patterns to illustrate classical music. It is kind of a guilt-free way for the kids to watch some screen time, and learn something in the process. The colors and lines go up and down like reading music and it also usually has a line for each instrument. It’s like being able to picture music. It has been a favorite for years now!
Listening to audio stories that tell about the composer who wrote the music we love to hear. Each CD also has either a fictitious story or a story with children who get to meet the composer. It’s a great way to teach music history and music at the same time. The cool thing is that the soundtrack to each CD in the series contains only excerpts of music written by that composer. Vivaldi’s Ring Of Mystery has been our top favorite so far. They also have Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Handel.
Dancing and Music
Dancing and moving to music is an important way to teach rhythm. It’s probably the part I have the hardest time with. It’s hard to find things that Keaton is willing to move with because dancing isn’t really his thing. He can sing on key and listen carefully but has no real desire to clap his hands or stomp his feet. A couple of nights ago I finally found something that broke the ice. He and I danced to Barn Yard Dance and he actually had a blast.
For More Ideas on how to Teach a Love for Music
One of the best resources I’ve found to teach a love for music is the book How to Grow a Young Music Lover! I probably need to read it again, now that we are in a new stage. The book is full of suggestions on how to incorporate music into your everyday life. She has a library of hundreds of song recommendations to introduce your child to every type of music that is available.