Since before my son was born I started collecting musical instruments for him. This collection has happily been expanded on over the last few years. Does this sound a little strange to you? Let me explain…

Before I even knew Infant Massage existed I knew about the benefits of music. My knowledge goes back all the way to when I was little. It is why we sing nursery rhymes to our babies and children.

Playing and listening to music helps your baby / child to grow in every possible way. A sensory-engaging musical environment can greatly contribute to a child’s cognitive, sensory and coordination development.

Put simply, listening to and creating music helps children learn numeracy, literacy and emotional skills. Incorporating music into routines and play in the early years has a positive influence on your child’s early development. It can get them moving, thinking and inspire creativity.

Did you know music is one of the few activities that use both sides of the brain (logical and creative)? This means it helps build important brain connections and the more connections we have, the faster we are able to think. Most importantly though, music is fun and if your child is having fun, their brain is open to learning.

There are plenty of articles available to read online, this page from Playgroup Australia lists 5 Reasons Why Music Is Important For Toddlers (playgroupnsw.org.au). Please read it!

Make simple musical instruments

You don’t need to purchase instruments to make music, you can easily use what you have at home – it’s fun to listen to what sounds different objects make.

If you are wanting to do a bit more, making a few simple instruments as a craft project with your little one is lots of fun. Talk to them, explain the steps and what you are doing – there is no age barrier to creativity.

  • Fill small, clean empty plastic bottles (such as a water bottle) with rice, dried beans, seeds or stones to make shakers with different sounds.
  • Make a drum set out of different sized pots or buckets.
  • Hammer metal bottle tops onto pieces of wood.
  • Make rhythm sticks from short pieces of dowelling, chopsticks, rulers or sticks.

Safety First! Ensure there are no sharp sides, all lids are secure and taped shut, no small items as this is a chocking hazard.

Types of musical experiences

  • Singing, listening to or making up songs and nursery rhymes.
  • Acting out lyrics or song stories.
  • Dancing to music.
  • Playing homemade or other musical instruments.
  • Listening to CDs or kids radio.

Set up a music environment

We have a large basket all the instruments are stored which moves around the house. Sometimes it’s in the lounge room or bedroom. This encourages play anytime and different experimentation.

For louder instruments, head outside, for those less noisy you can set up an area in a corner of a room. Place different instruments in the space and encourage your child to test how each sounds.

For older children ask them to describe the differences they hear in each sound or even show them with their body. For babies / toddlers describe to them what they are hearing so they can learn.

Once children have played with the instruments, you can start making music together. Play a simple beat and ask them to repeat it with their instrument or hands. Don’t forget to switch jobs so that your child can lead you.

Select some instruments and read a book together – incorporate the music into the story, experiment with speed eg. a horse galloping vs walking (fast / slow).

You can use a range of recorded music to encourage children to move, dance and sing. This can help them to connect the sounds they are hearing with the way they express these with their body. Alternatively dig out some instruments and play along with the band!

Speaking of the band…in our house we try to limit screen time based on health recommendations having said that there is some great educational programming available on ABC Kids. One of these music programs I would like to recommend to you is Lah Lah’s Big Live Band. The show isn’t just entertainment, it is music education for children and worth a look!

Before I end, a little note to you the parent….

Many parents say to me in Infant Massage classes that they don’t like to sing because they don’t have a ‘nice’ singing voice. Please don’t let this belief in yourself stop you – your baby thinks you are the most amazing person in the world and loves the sound of your voice!

Sing and have fun! These are moments to relish and enjoy. You are creating memories.

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