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I have been a preschool music teacher for many years. We use music in our classroom for everything. Not just our music class. We sing the days of the week, months of the year, the Pledge of Allegiance, skip counting, lining up, you name it, we have a song for it! Why? Did you know that ongoing music education helps children across a wide range of criteria – including overall academic performance? I have some great tips for teaching your toddler and preschooler music appreciation. I’ll share with you some of the best toys to use and ideas for a successful music time at home. Target’s Toy Emporium, which is online only, will help us out a little in this post with some #TargetToys. They have some of the best learning toys for your child.
First: Why is it so important for my child to listen to and learn how to play a musical instrument?
A Canadian research group from McMaster University compared two groups of six children between the ages of 4 and 6; one group took Suzuki music lessons and the other had no musical instruction. The results, which were published in the online journal Brain on September 20, 2006, showed that the children who received musical instruction excelled above their peers in memory skills as well as ‘non-musical’ abilities such as literacy, mathematics and even IQ.
Brigid Finucane, an Early Childhood Music Instructor at the Merit School of Music in Chicago, has witnessed the positive effects of music instruction first-hand. “Formal music instruction requires focus, discipline and determination — excellent qualities which are often transferred into other areas of the student’s life,” she says. “Beat and rhythms are key components in music. Children who can maintain a steady beat have a greater fluency in their reading. The music we sing provides vocabulary enrichment, teaches tenses and plurals, uses poetic language, allows visualization, and encourages good pronunciation. Through music we learn about ourselves, our culture and that of others, science and math, creativity, jobs, the environment, celebration and emotions.”
How can I introduce music to my child at home?
The first thing I would do is download or purchase music that is uplifting and includes a wide variety of instruments. Classical music is usually the best for playing in the background during quiet time or play time. I really like “An Intro to Classical Music” and “The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music”.
Your child needs some fun music they can sing along to. My favorite albums are written and sung by Dr. Jean. She has a unique voice, it’s not my favorite, but her songs are fun, funny, energetic and teach your child at the same time! Some other fun albums that contain classical childrens music are “17 Playtime Songs” and “50 Silly Songs”. These are all great for playing during a car ride to keep the kids occupied too!
Musical toys are always so much fun for the kids. We always make sure to put them back when we are done though, so mommy doesn’t go crazy! #CollectiveBias challenged me to find some fun learning toys so we headed over to Target’s Toy isles to look for some musical toys to play with at home. Educational toys are always my favorite. I love it when a toy can teach my kids something. These isles at the Target store are so fun! Most of the learning toys are all together here. We could spend hours in these isles.
This toy is SO cool! Doesn’t it look like my son is having fun playing with it? He loves it! To play it, you press the purple play button, add an instrument to the middle where the lights flash, and listen for that instrument to play it’s part in the song.
He thought he was so funny trying to pile all of the instruments in the middle. It’s amazing to watch him choose an instrument, wonder what it will sound like, then discover the sound when he places it in the middle. Each instrument doesn’t play the melody. Some of them are the accompaniment so you can’t recognize the song until you add a melody instrument. Have I mentioned that this toy is so cool? I have? Well, it is!
You can add any combination of instruments to make hundreds of variations of each song. The toy plays 15 different songs too! Here we have the drum, guitar, piano and trumpet.
Here we have the flute, violin, xylophone, piano and tuba.
There are buttons on the side of the toy that light up the various instruments whether they are strings, winds, percussion, etc.
Also the same thing whether the instrument will play the melody or the accompaniment.
I also love the fact that they can match colors and shapes in order to put the instruments back into place. So brilliant!
The Symphony in B. Orchestra comes with a fun book with quotes from kids and the words to the songs it plays so you can sing along.
There are a number of musical toys you can buy online through the Target Toy Emporium. We really like Melissa & Doug wood instrument Band in a Box sets and the B. Meowsic Keyboard. And if you want to get your child up and moving with music, try out the B. Mat-a-Matics Musical Mat.
Now how do you make time for music in your home? Make it a priority. Schedule it. Put in a CD, get out some musical instruments, and dance around the living room. Here and here are some fun resources for making instruments with things around your home.
During quiet time, put in the classical CD. I know you need some sanity while you are driving around town too, so pop in the fun sing along CD’s while you are running errands. Just make sure you add music to your child’s life. You won’t regret it.
Check out the Target Toy Emporium Pinterest Board for more awesome ideas!