Musical Interactions In The Home: Why?

 mom and child playing music

This blog segment is going to touch base on why and how we as parents should engage in musical interactions at home and with our children.

“Music Therapy Literature reports that most individuals with autism respond positively to music.” (DeMeyer, 1974; Exlgerton, 1994; Euper, 1968; Snell.)  Why is this you may ask? The obvious answer is, music is motivating and enjoyable!  I know personally I will run longer and faster if I have my iPod me. Music can also promote relatedness, relaxation, learning, and self – expression.  Music can also provide success – oriented opportunities for achievement and mastery.  All the while the structure and sensory input inherent in music helps to establish responses, expectations, positive interactions, and organization. –  American Music Therapy Association (2004).

Now that we have touched base on “Why” we should use music in the home let me give you a few suggestions as to “How.” Here is a basic list of how you can interact musically with your child at home.

  • Singing together
  • Using “songbooks”
  • Playing instruments
  • Movement and music
  • Game playing

Why should you sing together?

  • Increases interactive skills
    • Respond to sound
    • Listening
    • Waiting
    • Turn – taking
    • Eye contact
  • Increases vocal imitation skills
    • Open vowel sounds (Ah, Oh, Ooo)
    • Vocal sounds (Da, Ba, Tttt, La)
    • Words
    • Phrases
    • Fill in the Blank
      • Twinkle Twinkle little ….

Some may say I can’t sing!!!  Just remember, your child would rather hear you, with all your perceived flaws than hear a stranger sing perfectly.

Songbooks:  What????

When I refer to a songbook I am talking about books that can be sung.  Many times children may not have any interest in sitting down and having a book read to them yet will demonstrate an increase in focus and attention when a book is sung to them.

I currently have a huge collection of children books where the book was created as a visual accompaniment to common songs.  Some of my favorites are the new Pete the Cat books, Puff the Magic Dragon, Love Can Build a Bridge, and Sunrise, Sunset.  I will break each of the books down on a future blog on how they are used during music therapy sessions.

Some songs are created out of books, and can accompany them.  Brown Bear, and Today is Monday both by Eric Carle.

Remember, reading to your child has proven to be essential for speech and language development!!!

Songbooks can facilitate:

  • Book memorization — a pre- reading skill
  • Fluency of reading
  • Speed of reading
  • Increase in Vocabulary
  • Creativity

Songs can also be used in your home to aide in transitions.

  • Music offers a sensory reinforcment with which to sequence.
  • Music can help reinforce a transitinal moment in a non-threatening manner.
  • Songs offer a means for repetetive instruction.
  • Makes changes more tolerable
  • Can be effective in establishing a routine or schedule
  • Focuses attention

To create a transition song, write a short simple direction repeated with a familiar tune also known as a piggybacked tune.  When my children were toddlers I used songs when it was time to clean up toys, when it was ready to eat, using the bathroom, and when we needed to transition from home to anywhere.

That reminds me,  the kids chose when they were little to symbolize it was ready to get in  the car was none other than the “Wheels on the Bus.”  I would say,  the bus is ready time to get in the car!”  To this day when I am having a hard time getting my tweeners out the door I will say, “Bus is Ready lets load it up!!”  And I must say it still works!!  However, the song has been completely phased out.

A few familiar melodies instruction are easy to put are; Allouette, Twinkle Twinkle, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Mulberry Bush, Farmer in the Dell.  For example:

Its Time To Wash Your Hands
Farmer in the Dell
It’s time to wash your hands
it’s time to wash your hands
we’ll rub, and rub and rub and rub
it’s time to wash your hands.
Playing Instruments Together
I love love loved playing  rhythm insturments with my kids when they were young!!  We worked on concpets such as slow/fast, start stop, loud/soft taking turns and listening to one another.  Playing instruments with your child will provide them with a very special and unique musical expereince.  You may ask, what type of instruments are out there that we can play. A few basic rhythm instruments are tambourines, rhythm sticks, shakers, and jingle bells.  Keep in mind, the instruments do not matter as long as you both enjoy it.  Instruments can even be homemade!  The quality of the music produced by you and your child is not as important as the quality of the interaction and musical exploration.  Sing, Laugh, Have Fun!!
Music and Movement
Let’s face it, dancing is just FUN!  I loved to swing dance with the kids and taught them both how to jitter bug!!  Find music that makes you want to move and get out there and dance!!
Keep in mind
  • The rhythm of music facilitates and inspires movement.
  • Music is a non-threatening vehicle for teacher skills
  • Use music that highlights key concepts
  • Have FUN!!!!  Your kids will feed off your energy!
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