It’s the middle of summer….and boy is it tough to keep the practicing going, isn’t it!! We started out strong…piano practice was first thing in the morning, before computer games or outside play or meeting with friends. With summer camps starting early, that plan got more difficult, so we have been trying out some creative to not just practice, but also to just enjoy music…..which is kind of the point of piano lessons anyway, isn’t it. Here are 10 ways to make music a priority and help keep your kids inspired to practice by one of my favorite BC (ah, Beautiful British Columbia how I miss you!!) piano teachers, Andrea Dow:
10 Ways to Make Music a Priority in Your Family
1. Dance Party! Dance at least once a day with your child. Dance to reggae, classical, marches, pop, jazz… it doesn’t matter! Hold their hands, jump to the beat, waltz, spin, dip and be creative. Dress up! Grab some dish towels and use them as dancing scarves. Your child will always remember these goofy times spent with mom or dad… and you’ll be strengthening their ability to feel the beat of music.
2. Tunes in the Truck – Vary your child’s listening repertoire in your vehicle. Turn off that radio that plays the same top 10 songs over and over, and instead load your iPod with a huge variety of music. Have theme days! Listen to Marches on Monday, Bluegrass on Tuesday, Folk on Wednesday… you get the picture. You have a captive audience in your car as you hop amongst activities and errands… make this time count! You’ll quickly develop your child’s appreciation for music of all genres.
3. Draw to Music – Inspire your child by setting aside time each day for drawing, colouring and creating to music. Give them a beautiful new set of pencil crayons and a large sheet of paper. Ask them to draw what they hear. Play inspiring music and celebrate the results by posting the pictures on your fridge. Give their artwork the title of the piece they were listening to.
4. Karaoke in the Kitchen – Fashion a fun microphone out of a wooden spoon, spatula, spaghetti server… anything! Tie a sparkly ribbon around it and have fun while you make dinner by playing some great Broadway tunes and singing along as loud as you can. Pass the microphone back and forth – let them see you sing (who cares if you are horrible). Try out some (terrible!) harmonies. Add actions. Let them see you enjoying music with no inhibitions.
5. Ballroom Blitz – Is your house a disaster? Put on a fast and exciting song. Can the toys be picked up by the time it’s over? For this to work you have to crank the tunes… loud! You’ll be amazed at the hustle you see as your children are motivated by music.
6. Lullaby Time – Is your bedtime routine not quite relaxing? You’ll spend less time chasing kids up and down the stairs and you’ll have less requests for one more drink of water if you include this in your nighttime routine. Put some soothing music on a CD player in your child’s room. Lie down with them and listen to one song. Rules are: eyes must be closed, and at the end of the piece you have to tell each other what the music made you think about. Your child will drift into a peaceful sleep much easier after this brief moment of music therapy!
7. Wake Up to WHAM! – Create a fun family tradition… when it’s time for the kids to get up blast a funny tune to rouse them from their beds. I like “Wake me up before you go go” by Wham. Walkin’ on Sunshine works good too. Everyone has to be up and at ‘em by the time the song is over. Keep them guessing by changing the song periodically. It’s hard to have the morning grouchies when music is involved… especially ’80′s music! 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIgZ7gMze7A&feature=player_embedded
8. See it Live – Your child will have so much more appreciation for music if they see how it is produced. Google live music events in your community and make a point of taking your family to see live music regularly. There will almost always be free live music in your local community. Take advantage of these opportunities to expose your child to varied styles, instruments and abilities.
9. Let Them See You Learn Take up a new musical instrument yourself. Let your child see that musical learning is life-long and enjoyable. Model good practice habits and let them see you not be an expert at everything. Pick something you’ve always wanted to learn to play and go for it! Even better… play your instruments together! Turn off the TV and play and sing as a family.
10. Make Music Lessons Count You’ve made the financial investment in your child’s musical education by signing them up for lessons. Now, make the most of the experience by investing your time. Give them the opportunity to practice each day, purchase the needed materials and have their instrument professionally tuned. Choose quality teachers who foster a life-long love of music in their students. Sit down to listen to them practice with your undivided attention. Offer frequent word of encouragement and praise. Attend every recital and performance opportunity and encourage them to participate in school and community musical events. Don’t let music lessons become “just one more activity”… make it clear that you deeply value music education and in turn they will rise to the occasion.