Updated: Oct 29, 2021
"I think my child likes music. The only way now to support her is to let her learn an instrument right?" No. There are many ways to interact with music in a very joyful way! And not all of them require your child to learn an instrument.
In the famous rock song "Let there be rock" by ACDC the singer starts the chorus with the words:
"Let there be sound, and there was sound"
as if this was the first ingredient for having music. Since we learn to speak by listening first, this statement seems to be very accurate.
Parents usually notice that their children like music when they see them enjoying listening to it. Playing them songs on the radio, singing for them or buying them songs or albums is a way of surrounding children with an environment of music.
What your child then later can learn just simply listening to music is a lot since there are many layers to explore.
First you start simply enjoying the sensory part of the music. It's as easy as "it makes me feel good!" or "that sounds interesting". After a long time of paying attention over and over again, one can then go on to learn about different instruments, harmonies, structures and so forth - to become an expert music listener!
What so many adults enjoy has long also become a thing for children. Standing in a crowd of listeners, all eagerly watching a well-known artist and singing along is an experience for everybody.
Possibilities for this are everywhere: From the "amateurish" town band at the annual little festival to bringing your child to a music star they saw an TV. Especially for the little ones there are also a lot of artists who write songs especially made for children.
These events of course have also the possibility to push your childs enthusiasm to a point where they "really really want to learn to play guitar like that!" Or some other instrument. Be it for getting this "initial spark" or just keeping the flame burning, a live concert brings out emotions also for children.
Being a fan is more than going to a concert every once in a while. Or being able to sing along to the chorus of this one famous song on Youtube. Being a fan can be a delightful obsession and for children a way to really deeply dive into the world of music.
Your child really likes this one artist? Buy them the whole new album, instead of just listening to this one song. They are very much into classical music or rock music or pop? Get them a "Best Of" album, check the internet for the history of the genre and composers or even visit a museum about it.
The possibilities of just surrounding your child with a lot more of this one thing they love are endless. If they really enjoy it they will appreciate the shared fan-experience for sure!
Playing an Instrument
The classic. Or not? Many more children have contact with music without even touching an instrument than playing one themselves. Music is everywhere! Movies, advertisements, festivals, birds chirping in the forest and so much more.
If your child tends to wanting to explore a certain instrument (or for starters just randomly play any instrument) this is a great sign that they already enjoy music in a very deep way.
Playing an instrument presents chances of development beyond raising skills for:
social skills (for example in group playing).
It offers the chance for a child to express themselves through making music on their own - and that is a beautiful thing.
Making Music in a Group
Being in harmony with a group can be a wonderful feeling. In music you can have this quite literally, in a choir for example. But it doesn't even need to be this professional. Singing circles in kindergartens, karaoke events for children or simply singing together with them to a song on the radio can be a great experience for children.
If your child is already a little bit advanced in playing an instrument, offer them to join an orchestra or a band in a local youth center. Especially in summer there are often programs for little projects like these that are perfect for trying the group experience.
Of course you can make music in groups with almost everything: rhythm instruments, voice, using everyday objects and much more. Here usually only one thing is important: That every participant has fun as a group!
Writing Your Own Music
If your child is already very active in the field of music you might want to encourage them to try themselves out a little more by writing their own music. Although many children don't even need this little "push in the right direction" (because children usually try new things out anyway) for a parent it can be good to remind them that writing (or making) your own music doesn't involve much. Actually, many times it's good to remind yourself as a parent that it's these little steps of exploring that keep the child's joy of music alive - not the big achievements.
Let your child simply improvise for a while on their instrument and compliment them just as much as for learning a specific song. Combining just two notes in a rhythmic pattern can be an amazing step! The possibilities for creating something new are huge - and should be honored in every step of the way.
Most styles of music involve in some way the use of words. You can find it for example in:
powerful pop songs
critical folk song lyrics
rhythmic rap music
(and nearly every style of music)
Speech and singing also have the power of getting the child's attention very quickly. Although many adults actually say "I never really listen to the lyrics of the songs" children are very much drawn to the message of a story of a piece. Additionally, to the adult it offers many ways of getting your child to interact with the music.
Discovering the meaning of words, the development of a story, discussing what you hear or the underlying critical statement of a song can give your child so much more that just improving a musical understanding.
It also works the other way round: Let's say we have a classical piece that doesn't even use spoken word. Encourage your child to describe what they hear, to make connections like "this sounds like birds" or "this is very calm". Expressing what you feel or think is an important skill and this is an excellent way to develop this with your child.
The Science of Music
Usually after having made some experience listening or even playing your own music, a child can learn what music is in physical terms.
Remember the times in maths and physics class when your teachers told you that you "learn for life"? Well, if you are really into music you can learn everything about it, from the physical wavelengths of notes to the psychological effects of engaging with music. Some people later even make a career out of it by becoming producers, instrument builders, acoustic experts or sound engineers.
Little "musical science experiments" like building a guitar or making a wine glass ring can also be a great way of learning about music in yet another different way - and thus keep the interaction with music divers and fun.
Music and Movement
There is music that just makes you tap your feet! And there is music that makes some children want to do so much more: Dance.
If you notice that your child can't stay still to music - be it classical, hip hop or anything else, give them the chance to express their drive through movement. Encourage being silly and to make big movements and to go with the dynamics and the beats of the song. When your child picks up on it and you see the joy in their eyes, you should consider putting them in a dance environment (and here there are many different types to choose from).
Mirror of Emotions
Ever listened to a sad song after you got your heart broken? We all like to listen to music that fits our current emotional state. When we want to get things done at home, we ask Alexa to play music for cleaning. When we drive fast on the highway we turn up a rock song and when we go out dancing the DJ plays good vibes dance music all night long.
Noticing these changing preferences of music in your child can be a great way of connecting with them. Also it shows their emotional abilities, since they connect and deal with themselves an their situations by interacting with the specific type of music.
Give your child the possibility to acces music on their own. The more children can do that, the more they often use it to deal with everyday problems, enrich their lifes and to explore the music that makes them feel good.
Many Wonderful Ways
So it turns out that in the end there are so many beautiful ways of enjoying music. Be a little open yourself as a parent and watch your child closely. A spark of joy can be found in the tiniest actions. Give them the opportunities to try much of what's mentioned above and you will see that music can be so much more than "just" learning an instrument.
How can I find music activities?
Find more activities like these on our website: https://www.paupa.org
Private Music School in Palma de Mallorca
You want private music lessons for your child? Visit us in our music school in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where we offer piano lessons, guitar lessons, ukulele lessons, singing lessons, music introduction and more.