In a recent study published by the University of Queensland, researchers found that in terms of doing at-home activities with your child to foster development, music trumps reading.
Since this study was published, I’ve had quite a few families asking for suggestions on how they can “jam” with their child, aside from their regular Mini Maestros classes. Don’t worry; you don’t need to be an exceptionally talented ‘musical family’ to make music together at home.
Here are a few tips from us here at Mini Maestros.
By Maddie Thiele
Former Mini Maestros Teacher
Play a wide variety of musical recordings…
with your child, from your favourite music, to children’s songs, to classical music. Try to incorporate simple actions in these songs by modelling movements for your child to copy. This can be as simple as patting the beat on your knees. Don’t forget your Mini Maestros CDs, which have all been recorded to foster interactive music-making at home. Your Mini Maestros books are also a great resource, filled with at-home activity ideas too!
2. Make up songs and rhymesas often as you can.
They can be about day-to-day activities like bath time, breakfast time or getting dressed in the morning. Use your child’s name in the songs/rhymes too, if possible, because children love hearing their names. Repetition is the key, so try to write some of the songs down so that you can remember them again later. I have a very fond memory of a rhyme that my own mother made up when I was a child:
“Is Madeleine me?” said Madeleine May,
“No Madeleine’s not me,” said Mummy one day.
“Then Madeleine’s who?” asked Madeleine Moo,
“Madeleine’s YOU!” said Mummy the poo.
3. Allow silence to encourage your child to sing.
Even babies need to be given cues to sing out loud, and they need to be given space to be heard. One of our favourite strategies is to sing something, then allow a silent gap for the child to respond. This is the beginning of call and response singing, which they will consciously learn in later Mini Maestros classes. Toddlers and preschoolers will often sing in their heads but forget to express it outwardly. So, if you’re singing a song that your child knows well, drop out the last word of the line to let them finish. For example – to the tune of Here We Go ‘Round The Mulberry Bush:
This is the way we wash your hands, wash your _____, wash your _______,
This is the way we wash your hands, early in the morning.
4. Make a collection of good-quality children’s percussion instruments…
so that you can play a steady beat along to the music. Many toy companies will produce musical toys that may look cute, but might not be the best equipment to make music with. If the instrument doesn’t make a good quality sound, children will probably not engage with it for longer than 5 minutes. There are some great percussion brands like Remo and Bambina that make gorgeous, baby-friendly, durable instruments that make excellent sounds.
5. Build a repertoire of songs…
that you can keep coming back to and, most importantly, enjoy!