Thursday 24 January 2013


"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without."
      ---Confucious, Book of Rites
A lovely duet!?
Music is weird isn't it!? What is its purpose that makes it so fundamental to human life? Sorry, I'm not really going to attempt a bit of philosophy! I had a look on t'internet to see what other people thought about the reasons for making music, but my favourite page was just a series of good quotes, so I'm going to stick some in!
 "I always loved music; whoso has skill in this art is of a good temperament, fitted for all things."---Martin Luther, 1566.
I don't know why the tradition of making music evolved but I do know that it's totally universal and communicates with the soul in a way nothing else does. I also know that kids generally love it- both listening to it, moving to it, and making it themselves. Even tiny babies in their bouncy chairs will jiggle along to music, and give the little critters something to hit or rattle or blow or twang and they will make their own "music" with great enthusiasm.

Zac singing the "Excavator Song."
"The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sing best."
      ---Henry David Thoreau
 Singing nursery rhymes and songs is a great place to start. Just the sound of the simple melodies and the pattern of the rhymes seems appealing and soothing to children, and it's thought to be very important for their language development (See this article for more info: When I was teaching, I met a lot of teachers who dreaded the thought of having to sing to their class. Usually this was because they'd been told, at some point during their childhood, that they "couldn't sing." It made me mad and sad. Everyone can sing. Admittedly, some are better than others at it, and many of the people who turn up on X-factor type audition programs genuinely believing they have a voice that will impress the nation have been equally misguided in the opposite direction, but singing should be all about enjoyment, and everyone- especially kids, should be allowed to enjoy it without feeling self-conscious. Babies and small children will love the sound of your voice whatever you might think of it, so sing out whenever you fancy!They'll soon join in.

 "Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education."
It's not exactly Glastonbury!
It's amazing how music sticks things in the mind. Both my littlies managed to learn lots of songs off by heart for their pre-school Christmas nativities, and kids in my class who struggled to remember their 2 times table could sing the whole of the latest pop song word for word, so if you've got to learn it, try singing it! It's also a good way to get creative with words. Zac loves making up his own lyrics to tunes he knows- mostly creating songs about diggers and combines.
Plus, a family sing-song in the car can lessen the pain of a long journey, or playing the humming game while you're on a long walk can distract from the distance still to go.

"The pied piper" fuffing it gently!
Of course, you don't just make music with your voice. Children love playing "instruments" too. You can buy lots of simple instruments for kids but it's also pretty easy to make them. An old margarine tub with a bit of rice or pasta inside can be a shaker, an upturned saucepan and a wooden spoon make a great drum- add saucepan lids as cymbals and you've got the whole drum kit (ear protectors at the ready!) Rubber bands stretched over the hole in an empty tissue box make a twangy guitar, milk bottles (plastic for safety) filled with different amounts of water make a great sound if you blow across the top, whilst blowing down a tube sounds just like a digeridoo ... etc etc

Jamming with my big sister.

"I found that the more I practiced, the better I played,
and the better I played, the more I enjoyed it.
-Adolf "Bud" Herseth, Principal Trumpet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
It is nice to have some proper, tuned instruments. Even if the little folk haven't mastered playing them properly yet, they can be a bit easier on the ear. My favourite is a harmonica that Danny often plays. It's difficult to blow it too hard, unlike a recorder, and it sounds as though you're playing real tunes even when you're just mucking about:

Lovely "plinky-plonky" music
The boys also like experimenting with our old and somewhat honky-tonk piano, which is a great way into talking about pitch and volume- high, quiet sounds like birds tweeting or low, crashing sounds- "The Giant's coming!"

"There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them." Vicki Baum

And if you're not actually making music yourself putting the radio on and bopping about is a great way to have fun and be active. By listening to different styles of music you not only let them begin to differentiate, for example between classical and pop, and talk about preferences, but they also interpret it through different kinds of movement, improving their balance, co-ordination, body awareness and rhythm . Tho I confess that I clearly remember Zac, aged just 2, saying in very disapproving tones, "DON'T do dancing mummy, it's HORRIBLE!"

A little clip of Zac at 3 months showing you can't be too young to dance:

Here's a link to a great post explaining much better than I have why music can help stick things in the memory for little kids:


  1. The vibrations from music can be very healing. #LetKidsBeKids

  2. Our house is full of music. I love the real music that the children make. #LetKidsBeKids

  3. Music is so important to children. I have always played music since I was little, I still play the horn now, so my children are growing up with lots of musical experiences. They attempt (very badly) to make their own music with their little toy pianos and recorders etc. It's lovely to watch, though maybe a little painful on the ears at times ;)
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

  4. Thanks all. I couldn't live without music and sing with a choir as my "me time." Zac is just about old enough to start learning an instrument now but want to get it right- I remember piano practice being such a chore- tho I'm really grateful my parents kept me going!