If there were a way to build your children’s characters, touch their souls, inspire them to make wise choices, give them confidence, teach them to think mathematically, help them learn valuable information, and increase the bonds in your relationships, wouldn’t this be worth an investment in time, effort and a little money?
It’s possible to do all these things through the medium of music. I know because I’ve done it, and I’m going to share some of my tips on successful use of the power of music in our families and homes.
Music is a great way to teach children values and academics. From birth to grade 5 they love repetition, and are hungry sponges memorizing and soaking up all to which they are exposed. After grade 5, they tire of repetition more quickly, but they still absorb the examples and messages in their environment. I have tried to maximize this consideration by choosing fun music which teaches facts, ideas, principles and values I want my children to learn.
Here’s an ideal example by one of our family favorites, Tom Chapin.
The Wonderful World Of Yes
I could base half my home school curriculum on this method of teaching! It’s so fun! We learned the names of many countries from this song, but it also provided a concrete example of how people on the other side of the world are much like us.
My experience has taught me that when I lead the way, my children often enthusiastically follow and internalize things long-term. So exposing my kids and actively participating myself as much as possible has been key for me.
My mother taught me and my siblings a love of music from her example. We sang as a family regularly for friends, family, and on the Welk Christmas shows.
I never took any singing lessons until after I started having kids. I loved music and wanted to sing better. I joined a community choir, and really enjoyed producing beautiful music with that group. From this time that my children were young they could see I had a passion for music and singing.
I’ve heard lots of people say they just don’t have a good voice or can’t carry a tune worth anything. The fact is, singing and appreciating music is a learned skill. I’ve learned to appreciate many forms of music over the past few years, just by exposing myself to it, and finding new music to love. Anyone can do it if they’re willing to invest the time.
I will say that it is easier to develop your ear as a child, just like learning our native language, which is why it’s so important for us to expose our children to lots of great music when they’re young. My kids have excellent ears, meaning they can find and hold a pitch. They can listen to a song a few times and be able to sing the melody with the right notes.
It’s just exposure and practice. Anyone really can do it. The extent to which you are successful in helping your children love music and develop a good ear depends upon your own personal passion and mindfulness. It also helps to have a strong starting point.
#1 Invest a little time finding good music. I found a bunch at the public library when we lived in Tucson (I’ll share my favorites in a future post). Now there are so many more places to look. Amazon sells songs and many karaoke versions for 99 cents. You don’t have to buy whole albums anymore. You can just pick the songs you want and make your own custom play lists.
#2 Play the music in your car, when you’re working around the house, and anywhere else it’s convenient. The car is a sure winner, though. I just play it in there for a while, and we all learn and enjoy songs that way. I change CDs when I get tired of them.
#3 Get over your self consciousness and hesitancy to sing along. Let your kids hear you. It’s fun. They don’t care that you’re not a star. And singing along will actually improve your own ear, ability to sing on pitch, and quality of voice. Music lessons are great, but you can learn tons by just experimenting with the sound of your own voice. The shower is a great place to do this, because the moisture helps your vocal cords not get hurt. Find the sounds that feel good to sing and ease up when your voice starts to get tired. Tell whoever lives with you not to pay any attention, and sing your heart out.
#4 Find the music without the vocals after you and your kids learn certain songs (find ones you love or feel strongly about). Order it on Amazon, find computer software that can remove vocal tracks, browse your local music store for songbooks with fun music and a sing along CD, or tape record a friend that plays the piano (if you have the sheet music).
#5 Make time to sing. Your kids will either join you, or at least be influenced positively by what they’re hearing. Practice in the car, at a piano or keyboard, or at the CD player. Then look for opportunities to sing for relatives, grandparents, neighbors at school, church, local talent shows, and Christmas programs. Your kids will feel so good about themselves when they do this, and their confidence will soar
#6 Inspire others by your example. There is so much worthy music out there, that is motivating, educational, fun, and even life changing. Seeking out music like this has not only had a great impact on my own family, but sharing it has inspired others. Most importantly, it helps me on a daily basis to be a better person.
Stay tuned for posts on our favorite music resources and more recordings of our family!