My name is Chris Salter, and welcome to my blog. The intention of this blog is to help parents, non-music educators, and music teachers look at different approaches to learning music, so that together we might help make music a birthright for us all. 

Teaching Your Child Music / Re: How to teach music to my children while I am not good at it at all??

My background is in linguistics and music, and what fascinated me was how children all over the world learn to speak whatever language is around them fluently through some kind of natural language acquisition process. I wondered how that could be used to learn the language of music as well, so here are some suggestions. First things first, kids learn by doing, not abstractly studying music theory or notation. "Music first, then studies" said Franz Liszt.

A) Dance with them. Movement in rhythm embeds the rhythm in their bodies. Be crazy and fun, and let them mimic you, in fact make a game of it where you do something crazy to the rhythm and then they follow and then switch. This is "call and response" or modeling. Brazilians use the samba, and while they start drumming early, they dance first.

B) Sing with them, if you are off key, sing along with music you like and then things they like. Play guessing games with classical music (Dum dum dum daaah! Who was that? "Beethoven!") Look for call and response type songs where the lead singer sings something and the chorus mimics or "answers" them. Look for that in Motown music, soul, etc, but it is in classical as well, like in Spring by Vivaldi.

C) Play drums with them. You might find drum circles around your town, or just put on some funky music and beat on some tables or clang a fork on a glass, but don't be afraid to have "loud time" and "free time". Then go into more follow the leader stuff (boom BOOM . . . boom BOOM) You can do this with words too (Boom shaka laka BOOM shaka laka BOOM shaka laka BOOM) alternating in a call and response. They learn by mimicking you. They also learn it is OK to be wrong and silly from you. Relax and have fun. It helps to have loud music in the background and join in rather than create it from scratch.

D) As they get comfortable with simple rhythms, go to a piano and choose just a couple of keys to improvise rhythmically on. The piano is a percussion instrument and by starting with 2, then 3 notes, you can have a lot of fun and get funky.

E) We learn our first language passively at first. A one year old can understand dozens of words, but speak only a few. Saturate your children with all kinds of music and make them guess who is who, from Pop, to classical to folk, and make it a game. They will surprise you. Learn a few motifs or signature hooks from some pieces or songs and sing them and develop a little repertoire of great pieces you admire and sing just fragments and make them guess, then have them sing songs to you and guess too. Move to identifying different instruments in songs or pieces, so they recognize piano, harp, horn, sax, Taiko drum, whatever you can pick out.

F) Make the adventure of learning about music something you share with them. You don't need to be the expert, just the courageous guide, saying, "Let's live dangerously, and listen to this!" When they bring their songs (they  may be soundtracks to video games) break them down like you would Mozart. Language is built brick by brick with vocabulary, music is the same, give them lots of interesting musical bricks to play with, and soon they will be wanting to build their own structures and be fascinated with how others did things.

I hope these ideas help. Please give me your feedback, questions and ideas!


Chris Salter

CEO and Founder
Music Wizard Group


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