One of the easiest and most fun ways to encourage creativity in your kids is through music. The awesome thing about it is that you don’t have to be a musician to do it. I have a list of 10 ideas for you, but I also think you may want to know WHY it’s so important to introduce music to your kids. Besides all the science-backed data on why it’s phenomenally beneficial for our minds and bodies, I have a personal story of proof.
From the time I was 6 years old (and my Barbies were singing musicals) to my hormonally charged teen years (when I started to learn guitar), my life has been heavily impacted by music. I was painfully shy growing up, but my love of music allowed me to face my fears head on and get up on stages to sing to complete strangers.
Music gave me a voice for the first time.
Music turned the world from black and white to color.
I met my husband when he auditioned to be the drummer in my first band. And throughout my 20s and 30s, I toured the country and made records. As parents, my husband and I bring our shared love of music into our kids’ lives.
Music is woven so intricately into my life that it’s impossible to separate the two. It has been my joy, my calm, my focus, my love, and my sanity. Music has given me understanding, support, empathy, and forgiveness. It has also been a catalyst, a champion, a defender, and an admirer.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato
How do I get started introducing music to my kids?
Here’s the deal. No matter which one of the following ideas you choose, there is one main ingredient here. Do it with them. Be involved. Be engaged. Get connected. That alone will benefit your whole family in so many ways.
Additionally, kids learn from what you do much more than what you say. So when they see you trying something new, even if you don’t consider yourself musical, that will send them a message that trying new things doesn’t have to be scary. And if it is scary, it can still be confronted. It teaches them that growth and learning can be fun (at any age), and it also allows you to build trust and confidence together. If they can learn all of these things, then imagine what you could learn when you introduce music to your kids.
Here are 10 Ways to introduce music to your kids.
1. Sing instead of speak.
And I give you permission to be as ridiculous as possible. Trust me, it’s more fun. You don’t need to know anything about music to do this. It’s not about perfect pitch; it’s about being in the moment. As you stand in front of the refrigerator deciding what kind of fruit to pull out for breakfast, sing: “Do you want strawberrrrrries or bananaaaaas?” If your kid doesn’t respond in song, then keep singing. If this is highly unusual for you, it might take a few times for your kid to catch on to the game.
2. Pick a daily theme.
Ever heard of Taco Tuesdays? If food can have themed days, so can music. So pick a time of day when you can make it a habit to put on music in the background. Maybe it’s the morning while everyone is getting breakfast and getting ready for the day. Maybe it’s dinner time or post-dinner. If you stay at home with the kids, then maybe it’s afternoon playtime. Try out different genres. “Bluegrass Monday,” “Rock n roll Tuesday,” “Classical Wednesday,” etc. It doesn’t have to be specifically kids music. If your kid is old enough, let them help choose the genre for a few of the days.
3.Learn an instrument TOGETHER.
If you are a musician, pick up a new instrument to share with your kid. Nonmusician? Then learn something together, like ukulele, piano, guitar, or drums. Find a teacher who can accommodate you both together, or if you’re the DIY-type, there are many online courses and resources available to learn from (like Coursera, Udemy, or the kid-centered DIY). Doing it with your kid will encourage their creativity, build your connection with each other, and it may even spark interest in a new skill for you!
4. Use songs to transition between activities.
We do the Bathtime Parade song when its time to move from playtime to bath. It’s a very simple song we made up where we chant the words bathtime parade, and it’s quite possible that some other words get added in that are never the same twice. We sing and march together down the hall. You can use songs at bedtime, during clean-up, before snack time, while buckling kids into the car seat songs, etc. Make something up or use a song that’s already been written. This list has some good kids music that’s pretty tolerable for adults, too.
5. Do a parent/kid music class.
It’s not about learning instruments and reading music, but rather it’s about doing things we’re all capable of no matter what our background — like shaking a shaker, singing along with a group, or banging on a drum. Many communities offer local classes. (Do a google search for music classes in your city.) You can also find larger programs like Music Together, The Music Class, or Kindermusik.
6. Have a drum circle at home.
Remo has a whole line of affordable, durable kids drums. If your kids are older (and interested), then you could look into non-kid drums at your local music store or Guitar Center. Also keep egg shakers, triangles, bells, and other percussive instruments on hand. Put on songs you know and like, while everyone plays along. Or if you’re open to it, don’t put any background music on at all and just let everyone choose an instrument and go crazy.
7. Seek out local musical experiences to enjoy together.
Find music festivals, concerts, singalong events, or drum circles that are family friendly. Listen to live music or participate in interactive music experiences. Your creative kids may even meet other creative kids. Introduce music to your kids that YOU like, too, and it will make it that much more exciting.
8. Have a dance party.
Kids understand moving to music at a very early age. This promotes comfort and confidence in their own physical bodies, in addition to self-expression. I have always been a fan of impromptu kitchen dance parties, long before I had kids, and I love them even more now. In fact, my 3-year-old recently found a favorite song by a band called The Pop Ups as we were listening to a new playlist of kids music, and he demanded to listen to it over and over again. We made up our own choreographed movements of flying like a bird and then stomping like a rhino (as the song dictated), and my 18-month old even enthusiastically joined in.
9. Explore a local music store together.
There are many music stores out there that let you test out the instruments on display. It can be fun for all ages of kids to roam the store, touch and play different instruments, or watch others testing them out. Just immersing myself in this type of environment gives me a creative boost, but if you or your kids are specifically interested in learning an instrument, this is a great way to see what the options are.
10. Use calming music to introduce meditation and centering techniques.
I’m not here to make claims that meditation promotes weight loss or lower cholesterol or reverses the process of aging. But I can share this study which found that deep breathing reduces heart rate, improves mood, and lowers stress levels. Most of us would agree that teaching our children how to handle negative emotions and feelings of overwhelm is a necessary life skill. Set the tone for a few minutes of relaxation with calming music like this Flutes for Deep Relaxation album or for something equally relaxing but slightly different, try this album of instrumental handpan, Lift Off.
Try one of these ideas, and share in the comments below how you share music with your own kids. For more ways to boost creativity and engage your kids, check out The Ultimate Guide to Creativity for Moms.