The effect of playing a musical instrument and listening to music can be mapped in the brain of children, but most importantly, music affects your soul. You can be taken to the world of Mozart’s surreal dream in the Magic Flute, feel Beethoven’s passion for revolution in Eroica, dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller or dream of a better world with John Lennon’s Imagine.
The question then becomes, how to foster a love of music, classic and modern, in children?
Much like food, music can sometimes be an acquired taste, and exposure helps your repertoire grow, so it is important to expose kids to all kinds of music from a young age.
But how can you do that? Music classes are expensive, and even when schools have music programs, kids might still not be exposed to much more than “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while learning to play, and dread the practice instead of learning to love music. Homeschoolers might want to teach their kids music, but feel overwhelmed if they don’t have music training themselves.
So below, are a few suggestions, both free or low cost, that can help you overcome those obstacles and bring some music and joy to your kids’ lives.
Teach Rock (Free)
A creative and exciting music program that uses rock and pop music as the basis for a curriculum that also includes topics from history and geography to disability studies, math and technology. The materials are well developed and researched and are separated by grades for ease of use.
Classics for Kids Podcast (Free)
A lovely podcast with a website that includes resources, lesson plans, and activities, but most importantly, the talks are fun, full of information, and only 6 minutes in average each, which is perfect for kids who haven’t been exposed to classical music and those who are looking for ideas they can explore later without the pressure of having to listen to an entire piece by a composer.
Prodigies Series (Low cost)
For those who are looking for a complete curriculum for young children, Prodigies is a lot of fun, and includes introduction to musical concepts, Music Theory for children from ages 3 until older elementary school age, and instruments like Bells and Ukelele, and they have plans for piano lessons soon.
The lessons can be done individually or you can follow a curriculum and a certain progression. Each lesson is only a few minutes long, or you can do a chapter, which is about 30-45 minutes long. (membership prices vary, but start at around $14 a month)
Children of the Open Air
A sweet introduction to solfa and traditional songs that is great for young kids who like to sing. The videos are short ( usually about 5 minutes), her kids are usually part of it, and she has a soothing and friendly tone.
Simply Music (Free)
Simply Music seems to have two distinct websites. One is for online piano classes, which are paid, and one is for free beginner piano classes online, via pre-recorded videos. Videos tend to be a bit too talky, and start from the concept of just following along, but it is an interesting and paced introduction to piano playing.
Mitch Grainger (Free)
Those who are looking for a cheap, beginner instrument they can carry around might find the harmonica tempting. Mitch Grainger offers the beginners course for free. The videos are short and to the point.
Free Drum Lessons (Free)
Their website is pretty comprehensive, and at the bottom of the page you will find the “Free Video Series”, which includes basic lessons and drills as well as videos with guest drummers.
Kids Guitar Zone
Free guitar lessons, broken down into different parts and detailed explanations.
Books we have used (that don’t require any pre-knowledge from parents or kids):
Music Theory Made Easy for Kids by Lina Ng (the entire series is fun and pretty good. Start with the “My First” yellow series.)
Beethoven for Kids. His life and music with 21 activities for kids.
Verdi for Kids: His Life and Music with 21 Activities (For Kids series)