April Is Music Month!

posted April 3, 2009

Katryna came over today and we decided our April project is going to be a continuation of the daily blog with an added twist: I am going to be attempting to make music with our kids every day in concert (pardon the pun) with the real life research we need to do in order to write our book about how bringing music into your home can inspire, warm, nurture and forge connections among family members, and also be fun and will raise a world of musically literate and musically competent children whose parents will be learning right along with them. Here are some of the things I want to do:

-learn to play the ukulele, mostly because I think it would be fun, but also to put myself in beginner’s mind.
-make instruments (last I saw Katryna she was en route to the store to buy plastic bins to make William an outdoor drum kit)
-remember how rhythm works by trying to teach my children
-remember how harmony works by trying to teach my children
-write a lot of songs and encourage my kids to do the same
-make some recordings using the new easy Mac technology
-explore dance and movement as it relates to music and musicality, including big movements and small hand movements
-listen to lots of good music
-write about it all on this blog.

And I am sure I will have to include all the angst that goes along with whatever it is we’re doing, because that’s just how I am.

Can I just say that I so admire Barack Obama’s calm? If the Magic Fairy Lady came and granted me one wish, I think it would be to give me an implacable disposition. I want to be for my children that rock solid presence that is able to set limits calmly and unemotionally and with love. Instead, I’m like a really annoying driver in a stick shift: stop, GO! stop, GO! Jerk, erp, oops, I mean…

Today was HooteNanny day. Our babysitter couldn’t be there in the morning, so between us, Katryna and I juggled Lila, Johnny and the guitar. It went okay for the first class, and during the second class, several understanding parents jumped in to help us herd our little flock. But by the afternoon (even with a babysitter on board), Lila was bouncing off the walls. Who could blame her? What kind of parent brings their child to four of the exact same music class in a row? Where that parent is the teacher, by the way. By the last class, Lila was interrupting me regularly, as in every half of a song, to take my chin in one hand, silence my guitar with the other, and say, “Mama, I need some water. Mama, I’m hungry. Mama, are we doing sticks now? Mama, I don’t want that kid to play with my cuddly!” (Her “cuddly” is one of her stuffed animals, which she then proceeded to hurl into the air nearly thwacking several of the other children.) When a 14-month-old who had just learned to walk came over to the boom box to play with the knobs, Lila yelled “No! Don’t touch that!” Hmmm. I wonder where she heard that countermand spoken in that tone. And then finally, with a big wicked grin, “Mama, feel my pants!” (They were wet.)

At the end of the class, we have “Play Along” when we drag out a big bin of percussion instruments and the kids shake, rattle and roll along with a song from Katryna’s collection: today it was something delightful from Pete and Maura Kennedy’s album of ukulele tunes. I was on my feet, shaking a tambourine, when I caught my son’s eye. He was dancing in the arms of his babysitter, and when we locked gazes, he gave me a full-on toothless grin, his eyes beaming the kind of love one hopes to find in the hereafter. I grinned back and let myself dwell in the moment for as long as I could before it decayed into fear: soon he will be a toddler bouncing off the walls like Lila. But then, I thought, he will be a five-year-old, like that lovely five-year-old sitting across the room from me, holding her three-year-old sister’s hand. For that matter, soon he will be an almost three-year-old as delightful as my almost three-year-old. For even as I rant about her difficult moments, the truth is she has many more amazing, enchanting, pleasant, easy, sweet, cuddly, funny lovable moments, and yes, she too is still more than capable of beaming me with the look of the divine.

Please write in with any suggestions you might have about our book! We would love some suggestions for further resources.

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  1. While I believe first and foremost that music comes from the heart, there is also a lot of research into how best to teach and learn it. A few things you might want to check out come to mind:

    Start the Music Strategies: a free booklet

    Bose In Harmony with Music: for older kids, but some great free diagrams for making instruments, and free downloadable music


    MENC General Music forum – there should be some postings about Early Childhood music there:

    I’ll send more as I have time to think about it!

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