Keeping Music in Your Child’s Life During Quarantine

As the Covid-19 pandemic drags on (has this really been going on for 6 months?!), many of us with young kids at home are looking for ways to entertain our kids and bring some sense of normalcy back to their lives. Whether you have toddlers who are climbing the walls or school aged kids who can’t go to music class anymore, you might be looking for ways to add more music into your child’s everyday life. Here are a few suggestions for ways you can keep the music going in your home or start your kids on a musical journey:

Music and Movement:

For kids, music and movement go hand-in-hand. Of course, you can always turn on music and let your kids dance freely, but try taking it to the next level by giving them a scarf or ribbon to use as they are dancing around. Show them different ways to wave the scarf (side to side, up and down, slowly and faster, one hand or two hands) and encourage them to let the music guide their movements.

Another great movement activity is to play music with different tempos (slow and fast) and encourage kids to move according to the music. Here are some ideas of pieces you can use:

Fast Tempos:

Rondo all turca by Mozart

Rodeo: Hoedown by Aaron Copeland

La Danza Tarentella by Rossini

Tritsch, Tratsch Polka by Johann Strauss II

The Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov

Slow Tempos:

 Carnival of the Animals: The Swan by Saint-Saëns

Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven (Mvt. I, but check out mvt. III for an exciting, fast movement!)

Nocturne in E-flat Major by Chopin

Gymnopédie by Erik Satie

If you aren’t familiar with Saint- Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, you and your child will love exploring it together. Each piece (called a movement) musically depicts a different animal. Listen to the different movements and have your child move like the animals.

Another similar activity is to turn on any of your child’s favorite music and have your child move like various animals (elephant, kangaroo, sea creature, bunny, turtle).

Learning to keep a steady pulse is one of the most basic foundations of making music. Put on some music and march to the beat, hop to the beat, skip to the beat, or beat a drum in a steady pulse.

Playing Musical Freeze is a great activity for toddlers and preschool age kids. Turn on any music and let your child dance like crazy until the music stops when they must stop their body from moving.

Musical Instruments:

The most basic household item can become exciting when it becomes a drum, a cymbal, a drumstick, a shaker or some other noise maker. Encourage your child to be creative and use different techniques to vary the sounds.

You can also make simple musical instruments out of items that you likely have around your house. Check out these 10 ideas of homemade musical instruments for kids of all ages:

For a few dollars, you can invest in a kazoo. Kazoos are different than other kid’s wind instruments because you have to hum into it to produce a sound rather than just blowing air.

Kids love hearing their own humming turn in to a fun, buzzing sound while maintaining the pitches they are humming.

Singing Together

Find or make up songs to go with different parts of the day such as brushing teeth, cleaning up, and bedtime. Use them to create a routine for your child. You can use familiar tunes (Lou, Lou, Skip to My Lou; O My Darlin’; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; Mary had a Little Lamb; London Bridge) and make up new words. You can use these familiar tunes and make up words to whatever activity you and your child are doing. (Tune: The Farmer and the Dell Sing: Nathaniel drinks his milk, Nathaniel drinks his milk, Hi Ho the Derry-o, Nathaniel drinks his milk).

Whatever musical activities you choose to do with your child, no doubt you will both have a great time learning and exploring music together. I know that we are living in a crazy world right now, but music can enrich your family life and strengthen the bond between you and your kids.