Learning can be more effective when it’s disguised as something fun. For example, you can introduce even the youngest child to complex themes such as music theory, composition and notation when you include them in a game.
Active Music Games
Music lends itself naturally to movement. Anytime you can combine learning with movement AND music, kids are more likely to enjoy the lesson, and they will retain more of what they’ve learned. Incorporating movement and fun into music lessons is an effective tool for engaging students who may have difficulty sitting through an entire class.
Sound Story Reading—Select a story that has a lot of action. Assign different rhythm instruments to different actions. As you read the various actions, have the kids act out the musical “sounds” that they hear taking place.
Name That Instrument—Play a variety of instruments while your child is blindfolded. Allow him or her to guess which instrument you are playing. You can also play various recorded songs and encourage your child to pick out the different instruments he or she hears.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink—Set up a variety of kitchen tools and utensils and allow your child to make his or her own unique instruments. Some old standbys include spoons sliding on cheese graters, water-glass organs, and pots and pans. Crank up some tunes and let your child play along.
Treble Twister—Similar to Twister, Treble Twister can get your child tied up in knots. Using a white shower curtain, draw a treble clef staff, along with a variety of notes on the clef. The caller calls out the next move, like “Right hand E!” or “Left foot C!” The kids have to figure out where they need to put their hands or feet in this fun and active way to review notes and names.
Xylophone Composer—Teach young children about composing original songs with some basic tools. Brightly colored xylophones and a pack of white dot stickers are all you’ll need. Color the dots to match the notes on the xylophone. Using long sheets of paper (such as easel paper), let your child “compose” his or her original song by placing colored dots on the page. When your child has finished his or her masterpiece, have him or her play the new song. For extra fun, try your hand at playing your child’s masterpiece.
Active Music Games
With colorful images, engaging sounds and easy to use interfaces, virtual music games offer kids a modern twist on learning about music. Perfect for filling those long car rides, while waiting for an appointment, or simply as a fun activity, these online music games are parent (and kid) approved. From interactive music builders to sing-along activities, there are dozens of music-rich sites to develop a child’s interest in music.
Curious George Splat—Designed by PBS Kids, Curious George SPLAT is an interactive game that combines painting with music. Each “splat” of the color hose provides kids with a blast of color on their canvas that coincides with a particular tune and sound. By clicking the music button, the canvas comes alive, with each color dancing along to the music.
San Francisco Symphony Kids—This delightful online musical playground allows kids to learn the names of the instruments in an orchestra and facts about nature. It also lets them try their hand at composing. There are six “on-location” areas for kids to explore, all while listening to a variety of classical music. Scenes and songs change with the seasons, thus making this a site you can visit over and over without getting bored.
Interactive Sites for Education—With over 20 games available, there are plenty of options to play and learn here! From the most basic “click-a-sound” game to activities that introduce kids to music notation and help them identify the instruments in the orchestra, this site enables kids of all ages to learn about music in a fun, engaging way.
New York Philharmonic—The New York Philharmonic’s game room is filled with games of all types. From the Music Match Composers to the Minuet Mixer, kids will be laughing and learning the entire time they’re playing. A western-style rhythmic percussion showdown pits players against a Rhythm Wrangler, and the Instrument Storage Room walks learners through a room filled with the instruments showcased in the orchestra. This site is packed with information, but the graphics and sounds are so much fun, your kids won’t even realize they’re learning.
Our Story: Duke Ellington and Jazz—One of America’s signature musicians, Duke Ellington, comes to life through this fun, interactive game. Filled with information about the era of jazz and pictures of artifacts from the National Museum of American History, this game lets kids learn how to make their own instruments and then use them to try out call-and-response-style jazz music. Kids can also find out more about Duke and his life in a read-along story about the famous musician.
Music instruction doesn’t have to be filled with worksheets and rote memorization. Instead, you can effectively boost your child’s musical IQ by using the power of technology and incorporating movement. As your child matures, his or her capacity for learning changes, as well. You can help keep your child’s attention by maintaining a constantly updated source of games and activities.