Music Development: Making Music Through the Ages With Kids

Music Development: Making Music Through the Ages With Kids
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Between the times your child is born and as he grows, there is a great deal that you can do to ensure optimum music development. Early music experiences can a raise a child’s musical aptitude and help develop language skills and independence in very young children. Spend quality time with music, singing, listening, making instruments and, creative movement.  Here are a few suggestions to help your child learn to enjoy music:

·            Listen to music together. Use what could be boring daily routine times (bath time, changing diapers, picking up toys, etc.) and liven them up with music. 

·            Sing to your child. It doesn’t matter whether you have a good voice or not—just keep trying different songs until you find the ones that you both enjoy.

·            Experiment with sounds. Children are interested in sounds—differences in rhythm, pitch, and intensity. Help them notice and identify everyday sounds as well as a variety of musical styles. Learning to listen and discriminate sounds develops their language abilities.

·            Play and make musical instruments. There are lots of instruments for children available in the stores but you can make inexpensive ones at home that are just as fun. Look through your recycle bin to find materials for rattles, shakers, and drums.

·            Explore movement to music – “Pat-a-cake”, “Itsy-Bitsy-Spider”, and other songs involve movement that stimulates muscle development. Help your child with rhythm by clapping hands, jumping, bouncing, or whatever seems to fit. The sensory stimulation enhances mental development as well.

·            Plan a daily music time. If you set aside time every day to spend in “music play” you and your child will start to look forward to it. And, you will learn a lot about music and each other in the same session.

Wee Sounds For The Wee Ones  (Baby and Toddler)

Baby makes music with household objects.

Infants benefit by having someone sing to them and dance or walk rhythmically while holding them. Babies often move their arms and feet when being swayed to music, later they will be able to feel and move to the beat of the music by themselves. Even before your child can walk very well, they can begin to make music. Have them sit on the floor and explore the sounds of drumming on pots, pans, and bowls with wooden spoons or other safe household utensils. Children can also be given various musical toys, such as a

Xylophone, piano, triangle, bells, maracas, drums, and tambourines on which to play.  In this way, he begins to learn about the sound of music and in a very rudimentary way to create his own music.

Water bottle shaker

Check the recycle bin, sewing box and drawers for items to make a “see and sound” rattle for your little one. Take a clean plastic water bottle. Your toddler can assist in putting in colorful ribbons, feathers, beads, bells, uncooked rice or pasta, etc. Run a bead of permanent glue along the lid or seal the top securely with duct tape. As your youngster shakes this instrument he can see pretty objects and hear unique sounds

Music Development in Young Children (Preschool +)

Young children like to listen to music and love to imitate. You can capitalize on this by tapping a drum (or bowl) two, three and four times and encourage your child to imitate that sound. In addition, the tempo (speed) of the taps can be varied. As your child becomes more accustomed to imitating these sounds, you can introduce simple rhythms by creating patterns of long and short taps that are to be imitated by the child (such as long-short-long or short-short-long-long). This imitative play will give your youngster a strong beginning in feeling beat, tempo, and rhythms that is very important to good musicianship.

Homemade snare drum

Youngsters love songs that provide some type of hand or body motion. For example, in the song “Eency Weensy Spider,” the fingers imitate a spider crawling up a waterspout.  And the song “Hokey Pokey” involves having your child move various body parts as the lyrics indicate. Children at this age might enjoy creating their own songs or at least singing their own words to a familiar tune. You can encourage your child to incorporate the use of simple instruments and dance while they sing. Your youngster can play the drums, maracas, or similar instruments to accompany and add interest to their songs. Also march or dance to the beat of the music. For more fun, bells can be placed on the ankles or wrists so that your child jingles with every movement.

Sing Like a Pro  (School Age)

In karaoke clubs around the country, adult customers sing the lead vocals of popular songs, backed up by recorded musical accompaniment. Kids are no less immune to the thrill of karaoke; they love the chance to sing into a microphone without being told to.   Why not pretend to be Taylor Swift, or the Jonas Brothers? For this activity, you need the printed lyrics, a recording device, and if all possible, a microphone. You can find lyrics and music to popular songs on YouTube. For example, kids can sing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams HERE. Or, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” HERE. How about a Disney song? Most songs can be found on YouTube with lyrics.  Keep the recordings for lasting memories.

The best part of music time is to let your child plan a show for the family. Let him/her prepare and produce a musical fanfare. Whether they sing a pop song or perform a symphony with homemade instruments – music is fun and entertaining. Add props and costumes for color. When “curtain time” arrives, enjoy watching your kids, praise them for their performances and serve a snack for their efforts and your entertainment.  Take photos—this event is priceless!

For more musical fun, check out these articles on Bright Hub Education:

Preschool Music Games to Play with Songs and Rhythm Instruments

How to Make Preschool Musical Instruments from Soda Bottles


Personal experience as an early childhood music teacher – Florida International University Child Developmental Center (North Campus) – 1990’s

Shake, Tap, and Play a Merry Tune by Tania K. Cowling (Fearon Teacher Aids, 1992)

Child Development Institute, “Music is an Important Ingredient for Child Development and Parent-Child Relationships” by Robert Myers, PhD 

Penfield Children’s Center, “The Effects of Music on Childhood Development”

Feature photo courtesy of

Baby Playing Music

Homemade instruments by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved