The Importance of Singing
From the moment they begin to hear in utero, babies respond to sound. One of the very first sounds they learn to recognise is their mother’s voice. It has been proved that a newborn baby will recognise and show a preference for his mother’s voice over any other.
Nursery rhymes, lullabies and action songs are passed down through the generations in every culture. Singing to your child benefits them in so many different ways, and musically speaking, will teach them the basics of pitch, rhythm and harmony. Music is a vital part of communication and aids a baby’s speech and language development. It doesn’t matter if you hate your singing voice; to your baby, there is no nicer sound!
Jemima loves being sung to and has recently started to sing back a simple melody. She enjoys trying to replicate action songs. Her favourite nursery rhyme at the moment is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and she likes to hold her hands high above her head opening and shutting her palms to replicate the stars!
First Tuned Instrument Recommendation
Babies and toddlers love creating sounds. There are a host of tuned first instruments for toddlers on the market. I would highly recommend the Studio 49 Orff Schulwerk Glockenspiels or Xylophones. These instruments are all made to a very high standard, beautifully tuned and have a lovely tone. They are specifically designed to help children to develop their musical skills and are often used in schools.
Of course, it is also great fun to create your own instruments, so Jemima and I decided to spend an afternoon making three different ones.
1. Sensory Shaker
This is simple to make and Jemima absolutely loves it. Take an empty water bottle. You can fill it with dried rice/pasta/beans: something that will make a satisfying noise when the bottle is shaken. I also added some coloured pom poms so the bottle looked exciting when shaken. I added some ribbons to the lid so that these would fly around when the bottle was shaken, adding more of a visual element to the shaker. To do this, pierce a hole in the lid using a skewer/drill/corkscrew. You will need some thin ribbons in whatever colours you like. I threaded them through the hole and then tied them in a knot. You may find it easier to sellotape the ends of the ribbons together and thread them through like that.
Firmly attach the lid to the bottle, and your toddler can have lots of fun playing with their sensory shaker!
Jemima has been playing with hers at every opportunity and she loves shaking the bottle so it makes a really loud sound and the ribbons fly everywhere.
2. Paper Plate Tambourine
Turn two paper plates over and let your toddler decorate them. They could use paint, crayons or stickers. I gave Jemima some foam stickers to stick on her paper plates.
Once your toddler has finished decorating the plates, turn them over and put some dried rice or beans onto one of the plates.
Then staple or sew the plates together around the edges so that they are secure. I also added some wool around the edges for a more visual effect. To do this, simply make a hole in the plates, thread the wool through the hole and double knot it. You could use ribbons instead of wool if you prefer.
Jemima enjoyed playing with her tambourine.
This takes a little more effort to make, as you have to do it in several stages. I have written the instructions in bullet points to make them easier to follow.
To make this instrument you will need:
Two pretty beads, or conkers would do
An unsharpened pencil/ stick/piece of wood of a similar size to a pencil
Paints and paint brushes
- Firstly, take a large piece of cardboard and draw around a bowl twice to create two even circles.
- Cut out the circles and then you and your toddler can enjoy painting them however you like. We chose to paint a star on a blue background, and used a star-shaped cookie cutter for the star template.
- Once the paint has dried, tape a long piece of string along the middle of the back of one of the circles. Ensure there are equal lengths of string left on each side for you to eventually attach the beads.
- Next, cut out 14 1-inch cardboard squares.
- Take 2 of your cardboard squares. Tear the top layer of cardboard off of each square. Glue one of these squares right in the middle of your circle so the ridges are perpendicular to the string.
- Glue the pencil onto this square, then glue the other square that you prepared earlier on top of the pencil.
- Glue cardboard squares along the line until you get to the edge. These need to be layered 2-3 on top of each other so they are approximately the same height as the pencil.
- Glue your other cardboard circle on top so that the circles are aligned. Wait for the glue to dry.
- Securely attach your beads to each end of the string. I used a reef knot. You can also put a little glue on the knot to ensure it is secure. Make sure that the beads are an even length apart, and are able to hit the sides of the drum but not each other!
- Once all the glue is dry, pass the rattle-drum to your toddler!
These suggestions are just a starting point. There is so much that you and your toddler can enjoy doing with music, and I would love to hear more about how you make music together at home!