"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature can not do without." ~Confucius

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Work With What You Have

I have come to the realization that I will not have children who will sit quietly in a circle and sing "Little Boy Blue" with angelic smiles and voices.

My experience would be boys starting nicely, but then getting up, jumping in place, then crashing on the ground laughing while they try to outdo each other with their awesome crash.... to the background of mommy still trying to sing, "Little boy blue, come blow your horn...."

So, I thought... I'll take WHAT I can WHEN I can.... Often, it comes in simple things like bowls and spoons. I took these bowls out for little K, but he set them up.  He experimented with different timbres... although he didn't know he was doing this (mua-ha-ha!). And, I think I even heard him doing some patterns.

Pattern meaning - a repetition of a group of notes - fast or slow.
For example: HIT, hit-hit, HIT, hit-hit.
Or: hit-hit-hit-hit. BANG. hit-hit-hit-hit. BANG

As the hearer, we can encourage our kiddos in making music (which when boiled down, is sometimes just organized sound) by demonstrating simple patterns to them.

For example, parent (sitting down next to kiddo with spoons in hand) does this:
BANG! tap-tap
Parent says: "You do that!"
Kiddo: BANG!
Parent: repeats BANG! tap-tap. "Can you do that?"
Kiddo: Bang! tap.... (gives parent questioning look)
Parent: Great job!

And it continues from there....

Basically - show your kids patterns whenever possible. Encourage them to mimic simple ones.
Don't be discouraged if they can't do it perfectly right away. Give them time to work it out, but keep showing them at various times.
You'll be pleasantly surprised when you hear them making some patterns of their own when you're not sitting next to them.

Oh, and if using bowls for drums, use different materials and sizes - metal, plastic, small, large, tall, round, etc... The more variety, the more experimentation with different timbres!

Have fun!


  1. For me (so far at least), the difficulty has been in accepting that my four year old's appreciation in music will not be what I had imagined for him. :) I pictured my darling cherub sitting in a circle of other darling cherubs holding his quarter sized cello, and from the time he could sit up, he's been a drummer. He would set out upside-down buckets in a ring around him, and have a ball. Now, at 4, he's surprisingly good on his jr. set, but a part of me still wants that tiny cello!

  2. I know! I had (and still cling on to...) visions of my boys singing in a boys choir with other perfectly behaved cherubs.... But, so far, all he wants to do when asked is drums! So, instead of being scared of that (Oh no! I don't want a rock star!!!), I'll let him explore with *gasp* drums and hope it leads into deeper things as we go along. There is still (Lord-willing!) plenty of years for the slow and steady introduction of the wonders of the cello... :-)

  3. And the elementary teacher in me says wonderful things about the bowls- patterning like you said by color or size, sorting by color and size and then stacking to show capacity. All good kindergarten skills. :)

  4. Great idea for a blog, Marji!! I know this will be very helpful to so many!