I read The Art of Family over ten years ago. One of the stories that I remember frequently is how she would take her little ones to the museum and stand with them in front of her favorite painting. It wasn’t to inspire the kids to become artists, but to share a piece of herself with them.
This month, my home became populated with more musical instruments (that are being learned and played) than humans. This took me by surprise and delights me immensely. I never set out to become a mother to musicians. But I was determined to share the piece of myself that love, love, loves music.
Here are My Top Ten Ways to Share Music with Kids:
1. Rehearsals – When Caleb was young, we lived at a boarding school. I approached the music director and asked if we could come watch rehearsals. This was great. Rehearsals are chaotic and noisy and I didn’t need to be as worried about him sitting quietly. I would whisper about the instruments and about expectations for behavior at a ‘real’ concert and we could come and go quietly as we needed. At a rehearsal, you also might get time to go talk to the musicians and see the instruments up close
2. Young People’s Concerts – Around this same time, we found that our local library had many VHS tapes of Leonard Bernstein’s Young Peoples Concert. To say that Caleb fell in love with Bernstein would be a lie, because we all did. Marc was so proud that he went to a music shop and bought Caleb a conductor’s baton so he could conduct along with LB. (Still thinking that wasn’t the BEST choice for a 2/3 yo… pointy things in eyes and all that… but it was sweet.) We have not found these since moving from that place. They are available but expensive online. A quick search just found some parts of them on youtube, though.
3. Outdoor Performances – Where we are from, this happens in the summer months. The more we looked around, the more we found. And many were FREE. These were also another great performance to go to because you aren’t expected to be on perfect concert behavior outside, and you can leave when you need.
4. Churches – As many churches as there are, there are that many kinds of music. This is another space where you might be able to watch rehearsals – choral or instrumental. You can always visit another churches holiday services to hear an organ or a praise band. One thing we learned is that kids behave better when they are closer to the front of the church (or auditorium). Yes, this is counterintuitive because every parent wants to have the escape route planned when teaching young ones how to sit respectfully and reverantly in a public gathering. But kids in the back can’t see. So if you sit up front, positioned to see the current instrument of interest especially, kids work harder and stay more engaged.
5. Library – Libraries have loads of programming. For kids you can often find a sing-a-long time. And just because you have a kid doesn’t mean you can’t go to other programs. Our local library is going to begin to feature our high school jazz musicians on Sunday afternoons. (Yes, I know. I am very blessed.)
6. Music guilds – Do a google search on music guilds in your state. Jazz, bluegrass, fiddlers, kazoo alliance. When Caleb was four of five, we found out that our state jazz organization was making an effort at having family friendly events. A local brew pub was hosting the event. Caleb had his first ‘chocolate milk on the rocks’ with his grandma at the bar AND pointed out to all the adults with him that the instrument being played was NOT a guitar. We found out from the artist during a break that it was a dobro. He gave Caleb a history lesson on the dobro, and a little glass slide to take home as a remembrance.
7. Rhythm instruments – the quiet kind. What I love about the fisher-price xylophone shaped like a dog is how cute and colorful it is. But as an introduction to musical instruments, it wasn’t anything the kids could have a musical success on. But a shaker egg can be played with music put on in the background. A small tom-tom as well. We have had a piano in our home for almost 7 years and as soon as our youngest could reach the keys she was taught that noisy banging was not okay. She had full access to the piano, but was expected to listen to what she was doing – with expectation.
8. High School and College music calendars – Again – often free music. At the high school level you don’t know what skill level you’ll be getting, but usually you will see a group of people working together as a team. This past weekend we went to a free Herbie Hancock Tribute put on by Colby College music faculty. (Have you ever seen a bass flute played? ME EITHER! It was so cool.)
|Anna getting ready for
her first recital
9. Learn or practice an instrument yourself – I play guitar. I’m not super at it. There is plenty that I want to learn still. My kids have seen or heard me practice and have seen me lead worship in church (a small church!). This year I started my youngest on the recorder. Something I haven’t done with the other two. I bought a recorder for myself and we are learning together.
10. Pandora – or online radio stations and youtube. The online world of information is changing everyone’s access to excellent and different music experiences.
As I wrote my TopTen, I realized how very perfect and disciplined I might sound. Not at all. This is an ideal that our real works toward every day. Even momma is known to just take some time to make lots of noise on her guitar or recorder. Hope you get a chance to enjoy music today!