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Read musician Mike Simpson’s blog on how to use music to inspire learning at home or sing along with music teacher Anna’s fun songs

Musician and teacher Mike Simpson gives his tips to families learning at home on how to explore and develop a love of music

Music has the ability to create a mood: make us feel happy, sad, emotional, strong, uplifted. It can change the atmosphere in a room and unite people of different ages.

However, often children don’t like the music their parents like and vice versa! So, how can a parent encourage the use of music at home, during the Covid-19 lockdown, to help their child explore creativity and increase their curiosity?

First, it’s worth exploring how music can open up discussions. As a parent, if you are listening to music, you could tell your child why you like a particular song or piece of music, and ask:

  • whether your child likes it too and why
  • what type of music they like to listen to and why
  • how this makes them feel
  • how often they listen to a particular song and why

Listening to music can initiate discussions about feelings, which of course is especially important in this period. So, when you have music playing in the house, use this as an opportunity to develop your child’s understanding of music.

Click the links below for more information on working with children and young people of different ages.

Mike Simpson is the Musical Director of Inspire-works, a world-music workshop company, a music examiner for Trinity College London and a Mental Health First Aider. Inspire-works are releasing daily YouTube world-music workshops during the COVID-19 lockdown that cover all the themes above.

For Early Years children (under 5-years old)

Music and movement usually go together. Experiment with playing music at different tempos (fast/slow), different volumes and different styles (e.g. pop, rock, classical, jazz, pieces from other cultures in the world). You could decide to play a different type of music for each day of the week (eg Monday is rock, Tuesday is classical etc). Notice how your child responds to the music: are they engaged with certain styles more than others, do some make them move or dance more? Find a style they engage with and ask them why they like the music: maybe they like the beat or tempo, or the catchy lyrics.

Inspired by the music you have discovered your child enjoys listening to, see if your child can copy elements of the music and create their own music in that style. See if they can sing the chorus of the song or melody. Allow them time and space to use play to develop the theme of the song – do they make up their own song, words or story inspired by the original song? Could you help them turn the song into a story?

Use a device to record your child performing their piece of music, send it to someone (eg an adult family member or friend) and ask them to comment on it. Performance is a big part of being a musician and it is important to encourage your child to have the experience of what it feels like to perform to others. You can then use this as a basis for evaluating and perfecting further music listening, appraising, copying and creating. Have fun and enjoy it!

For children in Key Stage 1 (5-7-year-olds)

Movement is often an indicator of how much they enjoy the music. See if you can encourage them to find the pulse of the music and move part of their body in time with the pulse (eg nod their head, stamp their foot etc). Ask them what it is about the music that they particularly like.

Can your child sing all the lyrics of the song on their own without the track playing? Ask them to create their own lyrics, melody or rhythms inspired by the song and play/sing along.

Use a device to record your child performing their piece of music, send it to someone (eg an adult family member or friend) and ask them to comment on it. Performance is a big part of being a musician and it is important to encourage your child to have the experience of what it feels like to perform to others. You can then use this as a basis for evaluating and perfecting further music listening, appraising, copying and creating. Have fun and enjoy it!

For children in Key Stage 2 (7-11-year-olds)

Children of this age are likely to have already been exposed to a variety of styles and know what they like and don’t like listening to. If there’s a particular piece of music they like, ask them what it is they like (eg the sound of the instruments, etc). Similarly, if there’s a style of music they don’t like, probe them to reveal what makes them not like it (eg the tempo, the lyrics make me feel sad, etc).

Is your child able to sing the melody and clap along at the same time? Multi-tasking is a necessary skill for musicians! If it’s a song with lyrics that they’ve been enjoying, ask them to write an extra verse or chorus that develops the theme of the song. If it’s a piece of instrumental music, ask them to create a new part that fits with the piece either by singing or playing as body percussion.

Use a device to record your child performing their piece of music, send it to someone (eg an adult family member or friend) and ask them to comment on it. Performance is a big part of being a musician and it is important to encourage your child to have the experience of what it feels like to perform to others. You can then use this as a basis for evaluating and perfecting further music listening, appraising, copying and creating. Have fun and enjoy it!

For children in Key Stage 3 (11-14-year-olds)

Ask your child to choose a recording of music they like. Ask questions about why they like it (eg it makes them feel a certain way, it sounds ‘cool’ – why? Or perhaps they like the combination of instruments). Ask them to identify all the instruments on the track. Then play them a piece of music in a contrasting style or a type they’ve not heard much before (eg music from another world culture). Ask them the same questions and spend time discussing the differences of how it made them feel, what they liked or didn’t like and why.

If you have any musical instruments at home (or can use music software on a device such as GarageBand, Cubase or Music Maker Jam), see if your child can work out how to play the main melody line of the piece of music they enjoy listening to. How could they develop the piece further? What could they add to the music to give it a different feel or mood?

Use a device to record your child performing their piece of music, send it to someone (eg an adult family member or friend) and ask them to comment on it. Performance is a big part of being a musician and it is important to encourage your child to have the experience of what it feels like to perform to others. You can then use this as a basis for evaluating and perfecting further music listening, appraising, copying and creating. Have fun and enjoy it!


Anna’s songs

Let music teacher Anna lead you through a singalong of these fun songs aimed at primary age children and their families. No instruments are needed! You’ll find the words for all of the songs on our downloadable song sheet.

Big Brown Bear

I Don’t Care If The Rain Comes Down

Tony Chestnut

Hill and Gully Rider

How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?

Resources

Fun creative activities for families learning outside of school.

 

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