How to encourage your budding musician (ages 5 to 8)

How to encourage your budding musician (ages 5 to 8)

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Maybe you’ve noticed your grade-schooler rocking out to your Cold Play collection – in perfect rhythm. Maybe she makes up songs or her teacher tells you she's a quick study, picking up new instruments with ease. You want to nurture your child's interest, excitement, and – yes – potential talent for music, but how to do it without laying on too much pressure too soon?

First, playing it cool is essential. Even if your child shows obvious aptitude – she can distinguish melody, rhythm, patterns, tempo, and pitch – at this age she’ll learn best through exploration.

Here are 11 age-appropriate ways to keep your grade-schooler jazzed about music.

Mix it up

When you play music at home and in the car, dip into different genres. Kids can appreciate classical, jazz, folk, world, funk, punk, rock, reggae, hip-hop, or techno tunes.

Exposing a child to a variety of music helps her distinguish differences in tone, pitch, rhythm, and emotion. It also helps build her ability to concentrate on music. Musically gifted kids generally like exploring different musical genres, ditties and jingles, and noises like bell chimes, waterfalls, rain on a roof, or crickets chirping.

At this age, your child may start showing a preference for certain styles or sounds, which is fine. Just keep an eclectic musical mix in rotation. Soon enough she may reject whole categories of music, so enjoy this window while it lasts.

Expand your definition of kids' music

There's more than just kids' movie soundtracks. The Putumayo Kids playground collection, which includes compilations of Brazilian, Celtic, African, and other global beats, is a good place to begin a search for sounds from faraway places. The Kids' Music That Rocks blog recommends music for kids that doesn't make adults want to rip their hair out, and Classics for Kids offers ideas on incorporating orchestral sounds into family life.

Give your child her own iPod or MP3 player

Kids as young as 5 should be able to work a simple one. Pick something inexpensive enough that you won't freak out if it gets broken, and put it in your child's room so she can choose her own tunes.

Sing out loud

Belt out a top 40s hit you hear on the way to school or ask your child to teach you a song she learned in class. Don't sweat it if you can't hold a tune. Your child will likely just pick up on your upbeat mood and be happy to go along for the ride. It's good for kids to learn that singing needn't seem perfect, the way it does on recordings, for it to be a blast. Your off-key singing makes it less intimidating for them to try, too.

Dust off your guitar and pluck out a tune

Encourage your child to sing along, dance, or take a turn. Making music together and improvising sounds can be a fun bonding experience. Plus, if you show her that music is a part of everyday life, she may naturally gravitate to incorporating it into her own world. (Need further proof? Yo-Yo Ma's parents were gifted musicians who played at home.)

Find child-size instruments at toy or music stores

Drums, guitars, and keyboards are big hits with this age group. Harmonicas, flutes, and tin whistles are also popular. Shops that trade in international goods often have less-well-known, kid-friendly instruments from around the globe. Instruments can often be picked up second hand, too, which is a low-pressure way to try something new.

Encourage your child to try the bigger, real-deal instruments, even if she finds it a little frustrating. If she shows a clear preference for a particular instrument, say your cello, consider getting her a child-size version, even if it's musically inferior to yours. At this stage it's about exploration – not making the most beautiful music.

For big-ticket items, rent or borrow before buying, so your child can experiment to find out what she likes.

Explore music through dance

If dance is her thing, let her try ballet, bhangra, hip hop, or tap – whatever sounds fun to her. Moving to music helps kids learn how to internalize rhythms and express themselves creatively.

Hit a kid-friendly concert

Look for matinee musical performances geared toward elementary school kids by the local symphony. Child-centered musicals, such as Oliver! or Seussical, also go over well with this age group.

Kid-centric performances at museums, libraries, bookstores, or parks are more informal and less demanding than those for adults. Outdoor concerts are great for kids who want to dance to the rhythms while listening. Symphonies sometimes open up morning rehearsal to the public, a less-formal way for your child to hear classical music and see that even pros have to practice hard.

Let your child’s interests be your guide

If all she wants to do is beat her drum, keep it out on the coffee table and pound away with her. If singing is her thing, record her so she can listen to herself later. Have a family concert or karaoke night for a child who relishes performing.

Sign up for music lessons

But only if your child seems ready and willing to begin formal training. If you're not sure what might strike a chord with her, check out this instrument guide.

Provide the support she needs to succeed

Set aside time for her to practice. Listen to her play. Attend her recitals or exams. Check in occasionally to see if she's still enjoying lessons.

If it feels like a chore or she's asking to quit, it may not be the right fit. At this age, the focus should be on having fun making music, not becoming a concert pianist.

Watch the video: Is this 12-Year-Old the GREATEST vocalist of The Voice Kids EVER? (June 2022).