Music Notes

My husband and I both love music- listening to it, going to live shows, playing instruments, the list goes on. He plays guitar and the djembe very well and I play piano, we both toy with the ukulele, and I try to play the guitar. We also have exposed our son to as much live music as possible, and he’s been fortunate enough to go to three private sound checks, two music festivals and even hung out on a tour bus.

So far his musical genre preference is quite varied:

When the train passes our house, you can hear him belting out some Johnny Cash- “I hear the train coming, coming round the bend. I ain’t seen the sunshine in I don’t know when.” We’re just glad he doesn’t know the rest of the lyrics.

Recently while at breakfast with some friends, he randomly started rapping, “Hi, my name is, my name is, my name is Slim Shady.”

And he has a music box that plays Fur Elise by Beethoven which he calls Curly Leaves. When he hears that song while out in public he always says, “Curly Leaves, Mommy- this song is my favorite.”

This has special significance to me, since I read in From First Kicks to First Steps that while pregnant, if you read your child the same story every day, or sing or play the same song, when your child is born and is fussy hearing that story or song will calm them down. So I played Fur Elise for him on the piano every single day from the time I was 20 weeks pregnant (since that’s when babies in utero develop sense of sound) until he was born.

We also have tons of instruments for him to play whenever he feels the impulse- egg shakers, rattles, cymbals, maracas, harmonicas, and his own ukulele. He plays these often, and either dances, sings, or asks one of us to accompany him with another instrument. I’m sure our neighbors LOVE us.

I’ve taken him to music classes since he was 3 months old, and they are not his cup of tea. For some reason the big class atmosphere really bothers him and he holds onto the door for dear life every time we’ve gone. Though I wanted him to enjoy going, when I saw the music class scene in Babies, I didn’t mind that we were no longer going.

I am really trying to find a way to expose him to music and learn to play it while still keeping it fun. I found a great reference online about music appreciation and listening skills, and learning perfect pitch,  They recommend buying your newborn a nice xylophone (this is the one we bought)and pick 3 notes, name them and play them 10 times the first day, naming them each time. The next day pick three new notes until you’ve taught all that you have available. Keep cycling through this sequence for 3-4 weeks or even longer.  They also have tips for older children.

I also consulted my childhood piano teacher to ask her opinion since she was the greatest/no pressure/keep it fun but learn it really well teacher anyone could have every asked for.  (Because of her, I could read music before I could read!) I LOVED the advice she gave me.

She reminded me that every child is different and some moms may not be comfortable teaching their own child. Partner lessons with only 2 students would be better than one-on-one for others because both children can learn from each other. She also recommended her favorite books, and some great tips such as: “Since he’s learning his letters, he could learn the names on the piano, but take your time going to staff notes. Your idea about keeping it fun is right on target.”

“Make it a game like “2 black keys (pause) where’s my D? (and C and E). Once he gets D, then you can add CDE if he is into it.”

“Clapping, copying what you do rhythm wise making up his own songs and playing his story books all are great.”

This is so exciting to me! I always wanted to be a teacher, and now I’m fulfilling that dream…and hopefully with the outcome of a little music lover!

Do you have any tips to share?

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