- Music In Our Lives
- Music Activities
- Books for Children
- Related Subjects
Music In Our Lives
Whether it is a babyís first lullaby, clapping our hands to the beat of a song, or whistling a tune music plays a role in all our lives. Every culture in the world creates and participates in musical activities. Music is used for celebration, for entertainment, and for times of sorrow. For centuries music has lead people into battle, expressed their rites of passage to adulthood, and represented religious beliefs.
In order for people to appreciate different types of music they must first become familiar with it. The best way to introduce young children to music is to expose them to many different musical styles in a relaxed and fun setting. Try playing a variety of music at a specific time of day. You might listen to music while the family eats breakfast or while they play together. Evening is another nice time to listen to music. It may be the background to a family reading or discussion time, or it may soothe small children to sleep.
Each time you listen to music, state the composer, the players, the style of music, and the name of the particular piece or album. Let children draw their own conclusions about what they like best. Be sure to try many different types of music. Play classical, jazz, rock, country western, hiphop, folk music, marches, waltzes, and music from different cultures.
To involve children more directly with the music, try a simple activity to accompany it. Sing, dance, or play an instrument while the music plays. Take the time to study the music of one composer, such as Ludwig van Beethoven, and learn something about the composerís life.
Make A Rhythm SpoonYou will need:
- wooden spoon
- acrylic paints
- paint brush and water
- a short, large head screw or nail
- hammer and/or a screw driver
- one or two washers, which do not fit over the head of the screw or nail
Use the acrylic paints to paint the wooden spoon with any design you like. Once the spoon is completely painted and dry, place the washers in the middle of the spoon. Have an adult put the screw or nail in the center of the washers and drive it into the spoon. It should be driven in to the spoon far enough to hold the washers firmly, but not so far that the point extends beyond the opposite side of the spoon.
Now put on some music, hold the rhythm spoon by the handle, and shake it to the beat. If you want to make your rhythm spoon even fancier, attach a few feathers or ribbons to the end of the handle.
While it is not necessary to instruct children on how to dance to music, these ideas help add to their creative expression.
Give yourself lots of room for this activity and a pair of comfortable shoes.
Adults may have some inhibitions while dancing, but children, especially young children usually donít. Leap, spin, and twirl to a lively tune. Tap your toes, wiggle your hips, and wave your arms to the music.
As a warm up try watching all or part of a professional dance show. You might attend a live production or watch a video. Ballet, square dancing, and traditional dances from different cultures are all fun to watch. Once it is over, put on some music and attempt to imitate some of the dance steps you just observed.
Try on some costumes while you dance. They need not be elaborate. A hat or unusual pair of shoes may be all that is necessary. For the most shy, try a simple mask. Another fun dancing prop is a scarf to hold in each hand and wave to the music. If you donít have a silk or nylon scarf, tear off a piece of crepe paper streamer to swish through the air while you dance.
If you need more direction for dancing try locating one of these resources to help you out.
Books About Dance
- International Playtime - Classroom Games And Dances From Around The World by Wayne E. Nelson and Henery "Buzz" Glass - This book, written for teachers, gives specific instructions for dances and games from many cultures. (amazon.com has it)
- Shake It To The One That You Love Best - Play Songs And Lullabies From Black Musical Traditions collected and adapted by Cheryl Warren Mattox. This book includes musical ring games, line games, and clapping patterns for children as young as 4. The lullabies make it appropriate even in infancy. (amazon.com has it). An audio cassette is also available (amazon.com has it).
- Ballet: An Usborne Guide by Annabel Thomas - Although this book is written for children, it is a helpful guide for anyone interested in ballet. (amazon.com has it).
A Finger FriendYou will need:
- a finger friend pattern
- watercolor markers or crayons
- yarn, lace, bits of rickrack or other odds and ends
Use the Finger Friend Pattern page to print a full-size finger friend that fits on a single page. You can also create your own puppet design based on the pattern at the left. Toward the top of the friend draw a face. Cut around the outline of the finger friend. Also cut out the finger holes at the bottom of the friend. Glue on some yarn hair and attach paper arms if you wish. The friend can be simple with just a face or you can add a skirt by according folding paper, glue on some lace, or make a yarn tie. Your finger friend can become a dancing bear, cat, or even a bird with the right additions.
Once the finger friend is decorated and dried. Put your fingers through the holes, turn on some music, and let your friend "dance" across a table or desk top.
This activity requires only your good listening ears. Find music in unusual and mysterious places. Listen to the rhythm of wagon wheels on a sidewalk, the hum of a car motor, or the song of birds. Poets describe "babbling brooks," "whistling wind," and "singing caves." If you search with your ears, you can find music in many different places.
As a warm up to this activity, go to the library and check out an audio tape of bird songs or environmental sounds to listen to.
Books for Children
- Ballet: An Usborne Guide by Annabel Thomas - Although this book is written for children, it is a helpful guide for anyone interested in ballet. (amazon.com has it)
- Ben's Trumpet by Rachel Isadora - A wonderfully written story about a little boy who dreams of being a musician. Appropriate for ages 3-8. (amazon.com has it) An audio cassette is also available. (amazon.com has it)
- Dance, Tanya by Patricia Lee Gauch - For every child who wishes to be a real dancer some day, ages 3-8. (amazon.com has it)
- Musical Instruments (A First Discovery Book) by Gallimard Jeunesse - An informative and interesting book with transparent pages for ages 5-10. (amazon.com has it)
- Shake It to the One that you Love - Play Songs And Lullabies From Black Musical Traditions collected and adapted by Cheryl Warren Mattox. This book includes musical ring games, line games, and clapping patterns for children as young as 4. The lullabies make it appropriate even in infancy. (amazon.com has it) An audio cassette is also available. (amazon.com has it)
- Starting Ballet Kid Kit (Usborne First Skills) (amazon.com has it)
- Cats: The Musical by Universal (1998) - A beautifully choreographed musical, appropriate for any age, but best appreciated by those 6 and older. (amazon.com has it)
- Dance Along! Sesame Songs Home Video by Random House Video - Wonderful for ages 1-8.
- A Fantasy Garden Ballet Class by Kultur (1992) - A more structured introduction to dance, this offers several fun lessons for ages 4 - 8. (amazon.com has it)
- A Fantasy Garden Ballet Class II by Kultur (amazon.com has it)
- The Magic School Bus Inside the Haunted House (1995) - This video explains sound waves and the difference between high note and low note sound waves appropriate for ages 4-10. (amazon.com has it)
- Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella by Walt Disney (1997) - This live action musical of the well known story has some great dancing to inspire anyone 4 and older. Also available in DVD. (amazon.com has it)
- Jump Start Music Learning Games - CD-ROM by Knowledge Adventure - These educational games offer several levels of play and keep track of each playerís individual score as it teaches rhythm, melody, and the sounds and names of instruments. Made for ages 5-8. (amazon.com has it)
- Lamb Chop Loves Music- CD-ROM by Philips - Using the story of The Musicians Of Bremen, children learn about musical instruments, melodies, and musical memory as they play. Appropriate for ages 3 and older.
- Noteworthy Composer - Music composition software at a very reasonable price. This program allows you to create and play musical scores with multiple independent parts and instrument sounds. It is easy to learn and easy to use. It is available directly from Noteworthy Software and it does have a "try before you buy" option.
- MENC, The National Association for Music Education.
- VH1 Music First Music Studio offers the times and information to utilize their music education broadcasts.
- Duke Ellington Celebrating 100 Years Of The Man And His Music has interactive lessons, a time line of events, and more.
- Hop Pop Town offers several fun interactive games for preschoolers with an older helper. Most of the games require one or another version of "shockwave".