Music is one of my favorite parenting tools, and there are so many different ways to use it! Music is a wonderful way for parents and kids to bond, relax, and have fun. Kids can learn self-discipline, focus, and perseverance by practicing musical instruments. They can also use music as a tool for self-expression. Well-chosen music can motivate family members to pull together and clean the house, and it can help kids unwind after a busy day.
I was a music major in college, but you don’t have to be a musician to incorporate music into your daily life! Here are some of my favorite ways to use music in a home setting:
Mike took piano lessons as a kid, and he appreciates the fact that he can still play and read music. Even more, he has fond memories of going to concerts with family members and listening to music with his parents at home. I have great memories of singing with family members, and I have a particular fondness for the CDs my mom played over and over when I was growing up. My family always had a string quartet (at least – larger when more children were old enough to play). I rarely enjoyed quartet rehearsals (although I can still play the second violin part to most of those pieces), but I have fond memories of my older brother’s shenanigans (which he was often in trouble for) – and I definitely bonded with those siblings who were similarly un-fond of quartet rehearsals!
Playing a musical instrument is a lot of work! Playing an instrument helps kids learn how to listen – both to what they are doing and what others are doing, if they play in an ensemble setting. My mom used music as a way to teach self-discipline and focus. Every single one of my mother’s ten children can play a stringed instrument (violin, viola, or cello), and several of us play some piano, organ, or guitar as well. My mom loved to help kids practice (a gene I, sadly, did not inherit), and she would spend hours happily listening to scales and making us play the same troublesome part of a piece over, and over, and over. I learned a lot about perseverance and delayed gratification through those hours of practicing!
I use music to brighten up rainy days at my house, and to while away hours in the car on road trips. The right songs will get my kids to stop asking “how much longer” and start singing along instead, and at home a well-chosen CD gets them dancing instead of fighting. Music also makes it easier for us to face tedious chores. My kids each choose one song for me to sing them at bedtime every night – with lots of help from Anna as you can see in the photo for this post!
I’ve written before that middle school was not the happiest time in my life (is it for anyone?). The piano was my space to pound out frustrations – and apparently the frustration was evident enough that listening to me play sometimes stressed my mom out! My daughter uses our piano the same way – but fortunately, being digital, it has volume control. Some day we will own a proper piano – but I plan to keep the digital one as well, for this exact purpose! If you are looking for a good digital piano, I highly recommend (affiliate link) Roland digital pianos with weighted keys. They are, by far, the closest I’ve found to a “real” piano experience on a digital instrument.
Music is my favorite memorization tool! I can still recite all fifty states in order because I learned them as a song when I was eight years old.
Performing music with others and attending local music performances is a wonderful way to build community! Group ensemble pieces teach kids that you can create something beautiful by working with others, and the rehearsal hours make it easy to get to know other kids.
Comfort and inspiration
Music is where I go when I find myself confronted with something I don’t know how to face – either because it is too painful or too confusing. Music creates a space where I can clear my head and work out what I need to do to face my new reality. I find playing an instrument especially helpful here, but a carefully chosen playlist could have a similar effect.
What role does music play in your life?