With the doors closed on classrooms, museums, concert halls and local music stores, you may be left wondering how to fill the time that was once your child's piano lesson, music class at school or previously scheduled live performance or concert.
The concern of plateaued progress or waning interest may loom, especially if you can't remember the last time you picked up an instrument yourself, or are self-proclaimed "not musical at all."
Don't worry. We put together a list of resources and ideas that are sure to inspire and engage your young musician.
Local Orchestra Websites (Dallas Symphony Orchestra Highlight)
If you've never ventured to your local orchestra or philharmonic website, now is the time! These organizations work not just to practice and perform beautiful, polished music, but also to engage and participate in the music education for the community—including kids!
We've highlighted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as an example: Visit its website to inspire a new instrument build, listen to each instrument on its own to tune the ear to identify each part and listen to a variety of composers to study style and mood all in one place.
Train the Ear
If you have any musical background (or are familiar with any tracks from The Sound of Music), you're likely to recognize solfège (Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do). Solfège is the association of a syllable to a note to help with pitch and sight-reading.
Here is a fast-paced online activity that will quiz and tune your child's ability to recognize pitch. First, they are able to play with the solfège buttons, working to memorize the pitch each button (or syllable) is associated with, then they're played notes to recognize by clicking the buttons in the order the notes are presented. It's a fun learning activity with a challenging twist that gives immediate feedback to aid in the learning process.
There are thousands of resources that provide online music education through a game format, where skills are taught and practiced through mazes, puzzles and precision. A web search for these resources can be overwhelming to say the least, so we pulled two favorites to help narrow the hunt:
Classics for Kids offers seven different interactive games and resources for a wide range of musical ability and reading level. For young learners, the "Play Note Names" is also a great way to strengthen word and letter identification while also learning music. For more advanced readers, the organization and information provided in the composer timelines and maps is sure to spark their interest in a time period, individual or region for further research and listening. However, the favorite is likely to be the "Compose Your Own Music Game," where young musicians can put their skills to work and create their own piece!
At New York Philharmonic's KidZone, your child will have the opportunity to select from a variety of games including but not limited to a rhythmic showdown, a musical matching frenzy and an online tour of the philharmonic's backstage practice rooms, offices and sets. The games that require particular musical skill, speed or memory are also offered with tiered levels of play to help learners at all ranges enjoy!
Grammy Museum Online Lessons
The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles is continuing its online music education and community outreach during the COVID-19 closure. Its full schedule of lessons is posted here—with a bit of information on the age-appropriate level and purpose/format of the lesson.
Its lessons range from kindergarten to college and begin with a seventh grade to college-level introduction to electronic music production. Keep your eye out as it releases new videos, lessons and resources to inspire and engage musicians of all ages.
Broadway Musicals Streamed Online
Music education is not just learning to play/identify instruments or read notes on a page—it also includes the experience of seeing how music can bring to life a story, moment or person (character). The "show tunes" and scores that come with a story are often the hardest to forget. They stick in our heads and keep us singing for days!
This gift of music may be hard to give your child right now with local and Broadway performances closed and cancelled to limit social gathering, but a quick look over this at-home Broadway watch list for a family-appropriate show might be just what you need to lift the spirits and peak the musical interest in your home this year!
Online courses are not only convenient when it comes to learning to play an instrument and having more than one kid with a jam-packed extra-curricular schedule, but they're necessary in this time of social distancing. While Fender Play is not a free resource, it does offer free trial access to its step-by-step lessons, video instruction and tabs for ukulele, guitar and bass. If your child has expressed an interest in any of these string instruments, perhaps now is the time to help them get started!
Without the Screen
Ultimately, music education does not have to come from the internet. In fact, there are countless ways to incorporate music appreciation and education into your daily life without "signing in."
Play the humming game as a family where one person hums a tune for the rest of the family to guess. Let your children put on a puppet show or performance to their favorite songs. Play a musical guessing game where the first to name the song or artist on the radio (or playlist) wins a point. Or, get messy and innovative and create a family band with self-made, one-of-a-kind instruments to make memories that will last a lifetime!
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