Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preparing a young child for music lessons

There are a lot of things parents can do with their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers before taking them to formal lessons which will start the process of music education... I'll copy here a post from my old blog with just a few additions...

Prepare your young child for music lessons
Giving your child a rich musical environment...

  • rock your babies, let them experience rhythm
  • sing lullabies, recite nursery rhymes and do pat-a-cake type games
  • play a variety of classical music in the home (check out the library's CD collection)
  • march! get them to actively listen to music, eg march to the music in a circle and switch directions when they hear a certain cadence, theme, or anything you can think of that fits with that particular piece of music. Do it with them!
  • give them (or make together) rhythm instruments such as wood blocks or shakers
  • use rhythm instruments or clapping to echo each other's rhythm patterns
  • show them how to play "up and down the stairs" on a xylophone or piano and let them create their own music
  • teach them the concepts of high and low, long and short
  • play "match the pitch" - we did this at tooth-brushing time "ahhhh" "eeeee" etc. Don't pressure them, keep it fun. Some children can match earlier than others. (I remember playing what might be called "miss the pitch" with my dad to hear the gurgly sound of two notes that are almost the same pitch!) If they can't yet match your pitch, you match theirs.
  • take your children to concerts and recitals so they can experience live performances
  • help them to notice the music on movies and how it affects the mood
  • look for books in the library that introduce the orchestra
  • sing together
  • teach them left and right
  • teach them whole, half, quarter fraction concepts (pizza works well :-)) 
  • develop their concentration and listening skills by reading to them

A few fun resources:

The Musical Life of Gustav Mole (book and CD, wonderful for the earliest days through primary years)

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin

Peter and the Wolf - Prokofiev
The Carnival of the Animals - Saint Saens
The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Britten

We have these on this CD.

Each child will be ready to learn some of the concepts listed at different ages.  Don't push your child, keep it all fun.

Feel free to add your own ideas in comments!


  1. Hi Barb -- what a great resource of ideas. Sometimes it only takes simple ideas to draw people's awareness to it, and then they can run with it. I also have a local class for infant to five year olds, where we explore musical elements through music and movement. Visit for more info!

  2. Thanks, Roxy. As I mentioned in my "When should we start music lessons" post, I think pre-school music programs provide an excellent start for children. I'm glad we have resources such as your class here.