Music Learning for Kids
Music learning for kids is excellent for so many reasons! Research shows that it stimulates the brain, improves mood, boosts memory, reduces stress, and more.
Additionally, it has many positive benefits for toddlers, including increasing their sensory development, improving literacy, building coordination and confidence, developing vocabulary, and so much more. If you want to learn more about the benefits of music in the classroom, check out our CCEI blog.
While the benefits speak for themselves, one thing that might not be as apparent is how best to incorporate music into the classroom.
When it comes to music learning for kids, many teachers often wonder when to start music lessons, the best lessons to begin with, how to incorporate instruments, and so on.
Below is everything you need to know to make sure you’re making the most of music learning for kids.
When should I start music lessons for kids?
The great thing about music learning for kids is you can’t start too soon. A child experiences many musical milestones before they turn one year old, including moving their limbs in response to rhythmic sounds (even briefly) and smiling when they hear music.
So, while your little ones might be a few years off from formal or structured musical training (mainly because their hands and minds aren’t quite ready for complex instruments), it’s never too early to introduce music learning for kids. That’s why it’s essential to incorporate some musical activity into your lesson plans daily.
By laying this groundwork, you’ll not only build a foundation for a lifetime enjoyment of music, but you’ll also help them reach various developmental milestones much more quickly.
What are the best lessons to start with?
So now that you have a good idea of when to start music lessons, the next question you’re probably asking yourself is how do I incorporate music into my lesson plans?
Below are ten activities that are a great starting place when thinking about music lessons for kids.
- Alphabet Song: Set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, this is a staple of everyone’s childhood and one of the most accessible lessons to incorporate when beginning music learning for kids. Not only will it help your kiddos learn their ABCs because of the singsong nature, but it gets them comfortable with rhythm and melody.
- Build DIY instruments: An arts and crafts lesson AND music lesson? Sign us up! DIY-style instruments are a great option when it comes to music lessons for kids. It’s also a great foundation before introducing actual instruments (more on later). If you’re looking for inspo, Tinybeans has a great roundup of simple homemade instruments you can build with your class.
- Classroom concerts: While field trips to musical performances might be a little too difficult to coordinate at this age, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring entertainment to your classroom. Depending on where you live, any individuals or small ensembles might be willing to visit your classroom and perform for your students. And if nothing else, you might find a parent or family member of a child or colleague who’d be willing to come in and perform. Whatever you do, make sure the performance is brief, so your class doesn’t lose interest. And one more thing, make sure you and your style write a thank you note and send your visitor thanking them for sharing their talents!
- Dance party: Movement is an integral part of the music. With that in mind, play music and let your class free dance to it. Not only will this help with their rhythm (and eventually learning more complex musical lessons), but it will allow them to work on their gross motor skills. And best yet, they’ll burn off excess energy. Also, it’s excellent to incorporate all different types of music to broaden your students’ worldviews.
- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Like the Alphabet Song, this is another classic that should be in every teacher’s repertoire. Not only does it get your classroom singing, but it also helps them learn parts of their body (and gets them moving while doing so).
- Instrument matching: This is one of our favorites because it’s fun, simple, and a great foundation when incorporating music learning for kids. The purpose of this activity is to introduce instruments and the unique sounds they make. Begin by holding up pictures of tools and playing recordings of the instruments at the same time. As your class learns which instruments make which sounds, you can ask your students which photo belongs to each instrument when they hear the corresponding sound.
- March to the beat: This is another simple activity to incorporate into your music lessons for kids. You can either use a drum (we love REMO’s line of drums and percussion instruments for kids) or clap. For this activity, have your students walk, march or hop in time to a steady beat. As they get better at matching your tempo, you can increase and decrease the tempo making it even more interactive. This is also an excellent activity to incorporate into transitions.
- Music during transitions: As you know, toddlers don’t like changes because it means switching from one activity to another (likely before they want to) and involves multiple steps that might be difficult for kids to understand. So, please take the opportunity to create a song and sing it every time you make a transition. Not only is this the perfect opportunity to get the class singing, but it will also make transitions easier since music is fun and attention-grabbing.
- Name that tune: Play traditional and popular nursery rhymes and have your class guess the song’s name. For this one, it’s essential to start with accessible melodies and work your way up so the class doesn’t lose interest or become discouraged.
- Nursery rhymes: Chanting these ditties helps children develop their rhythm (making them an easy addition to music lessons for kids). Additionally, they provide easily digestible learning opportunities, which allow toddlers creativity, literacy, and more.
What instruments should I introduce first?
While DIY instruments are a great way to incorporate music lessons for kids into your curriculum, you should also consider adding real musical instruments to your classroom.
And the good news is you don’t have to break the bank to do this; there are various great options for every budget.
At a minimum, consider musical egg shakers (like these), rainsticks, kazoos, tambourines, and the like. It’s also essential to add melodic instruments such as toy xylophones.
There are several simple drums (like the REMO ones linked above) if you have the budget. We especially like their line of frame drums that can be played with a hand or mallet.
Finally, if you’re musically inclined, you might consider bringing in a keyboard, guitar, or ukulele that you can play for your students. When you incorporate more sophisticated instruments like these, you can also teach the importance of and how to care for more delicate instruments.
Music learning for kids should be one of the most critical components of your lesson planning. If you’re interested in learning more about incorporating music into your curriculum, our Music in Early Childhood course is perfect!
This one-hour beginner-level course was written by leading early childhood education expert Rae Pica. It provides an overview of the importance of music during toddler years and how it can become part of your curriculum and children’s lives. Explore and learn more about our 150+ other courses.