My son did not come into this life as a music lover – though even as an infant, a good head-banging classic rock tune would catch his attention. I am not the most musically inclined, but I still don’t think I deserved it when we had out books set to songs (“Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Old MacDonald had a Truck“) and he would solemnly put his finger to my nose and admonish, “Don’t sing, Momma. Read.” To this day he is more apt to put on an audio book than a cd, but he has developed a taste for some – and has a very eclectic taste. He still loves that old rock n’ roll, but has a soft spot for Shakira’s “Waka Waka” and an amazing ear for Tchaikovsky, plus a penchant for “cowboy music” and simply cannot contain himself around jive. Regardless of your child’s preferences, I am all for exposing them to different aspects of music: the instruments, the genres, the performance, the experience. Just maybe not my singing…

Out in the Community:

Here’s a few ways and places you may be able to explore various types of music for little or no cost.

  • My son loved to watch a local high school band practice out on the football field
  • Our town has several annual street fairs with live music and summer square dances downtown
  • Our library has outdoor concerts and indoor family shows in the summer
  • Some fancy music centers will offer occasional free concerts – watch their listings or call and ask
  • Do you know anyone who can play an instrument? Gather friends for some music in the park or around a campfire
  • Coffee shops often have live music

Lesson Building Blocks:

Use these ideas to kickstart and inspire some musical learning adventures.

  • Make some instruments (two approaches for this: find items to build a specific instrument, or find some materials and experiment with them to see what they can do; the difference in perspective may bring about different results) or find used ones and put on a show. Feel free to go to town with curtain, costumes, props, emcee, and so forth. For my son, it is all about the performance!
  • Write down a bunch of musical genres – or artists within a genre – and put them in a bag. Randomly select one at set intervals and study it. For genres, look up samples and key figures, when and how it began, expand into the social climate or feel of the world at the time. For artists, examine them biographically; try using the “If I Were You…” concept to really flesh out an individual.
  • Try writing a song – either with words, or just humming or tapping out a beat. Record it and see if you can later add music to words or words to music. Music City Song Star has some songwriting suggestions.
  • Experiment with a creative rap battle. Track down a good beat, then try a musical version of “Impromptu Storytelling Tag“; challenge each other back and forth to come up with a few lines about random objects.
  • Whether rap battle or standard songwriting, mix other learning in. Learning new vocabulary? Who can write a verse containing those new words? Learning about a new country, animal, time in history, important person? Write a song about it! Try to find music that matches with the time period, area, etc.
  • Go tribal! There is such a beat to the music of certain cultures; crank it up and stomp it out. I have zero ability or inclination to dance, yet there is something in these sorts of songs that make it impossible to sit still. Native American, African, and island music all have this effect on me (and, I must admit, Bollywood music makes me want to move too!). We recently watched the BBC’s South Pacific and we were both up dancing whenever Mooki Ana Low – hey and other songs came on.

The Okee Dokee Brothers are a favorite around our house

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