I have news for you: Your child is already a music aficionado.
No matter how young your child is, they already have opinions about music. More often than not, they aren't afraid to tell you how they feel about what they're hearing.
From the time my son could stand at the side of the coffee table, he was a self-proclaimed music lover. Never mind the fact that he couldn't tell us with words yet, or that he was years away from learning an instrument formally.
His love for music was obvious because the music made him bop his knees and smile, all while drool pooled on his shirt collar.
My daughter, on the other hand, would wail with tears streaming down her cheeks when she heard "sad" classical music. In one instance in particular, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Pie Jesu" came on the radio. She was inconsolable until we changed the station. It was heart-wrenching, hilarious, and adorable.
When we see our children react to music so obviously that they cannot contain themselves from moving when the beat starts pumping, our reaction as parents is almost as strong as theirs.
At the tender age of 9 months, my son was not ready to sit at a piano or hold a violin under his chin. So how can this love of music be fostered so that it grows?
How can we make sure that when they are physically ready to start formal music lessons, we've prepped them properly?
Here are a few ideas that will keep your child's hunger for music growing until you're ready to dive into music education in a more traditional sense.
1. Read musical books.
There are a million picture books that are music themed, and I think this is the perfect starting point for learning about music.
One of my absolute favourites is "Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin" by Lloyd Moss. In perfect rhyme and rhythm, all the instruments of the symphony orchestra are introduced (find the cat on each page). In fact, I have so many favourites that I've written a separate post about musical books.
Once your child is introduced to different musical instruments, they will invariably want to know what they sound like, which brings me to my next point:
2. Listen to music at home.
Listening to music is even easier than reading books about it. You don't have to be picky about the genre, and it's pretty fun to try to identify instruments in just about any piece of music or song you'd hear on the radio.
My advice is to choose music that you enjoy since you'll hit two parent wins; introducing your child to music you love will help them to love it too.
If you'd like to stick to classical music, here's a list of kid-friendly classical music with accompanying activities (although I'd argue that it's all pretty kid-friendly if you just have it on in the background),
3. Join a child-parent group class
It's actually shocking how much a child can learn at a young age, given the proper guidance. While I was impressed to see my young son bopping to music, I'm even more surprised when I now hear my children sing in tune or clap to a beat like they've been doing it their entire lives (which, honestly, they kind of have been).
The difference between dabbling in musical activities at home and doing it in a structured format is just that: the structure of repeating the same things every week and building on learned concepts is your child's preferred method of learning...and let's be honest, it gives us parents a reason to get dressed and drink our coffee while it's still hot.
Obviously I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that we're about to start up a new session of baby-parent classes at Upper Beaches Music School (details coming soon), but even if you're not ready for that, there's a good chance that some of the other pointers I've listed can be incorporated into your days more consistently.
If you're already doing these things, give yourself a high-five and break out the expensive chocolate because you're pretty much nailing this parenting thing!
About the Author:
Rebecca Lane is the director, founder, and owner of Upper Beaches Music School. A now-retired teacher, she now spends her days dreaming up practice strategies for parents and testing them on her three young children who have been known to resist practicing every now and then.