Updated: Nov 17, 2020
How you use instruments is so important. So, we have outlined how to effectively use different baby-friendly instruments at varying ages and stages of babyhood – from 0 to 2 years old.
Sensitive use of musical instruments promotes listening, playful interaction, sensory learning, language acquisition and musicality. Every Educaid has a wonderful range of musical instruments very suitable for babies and young children.
0 to 3 months
Musical Play is the language of Early Childhood. Hearing is fully developed at birth and babies 0-3 months are comforted by gently humming and rocking, which optimises neural development and promotes regular breathing respiration.
Idea 1. Tiny maracas are wonderful for using with babies and can be used with nursery rhymes, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Hickory Dickory Dock”. Songs such as these have short phrases and use repetition.
Hold up the maraca gently playing the beat as you sing softly and slowly, facing the baby. Remember to emphasise ends of phrases, and use lots of facial expression and smiles.
Idea 2. Make up babbling songs using the vocal sounds the baby gives you. Emphasise the use of pauses and silence in order to promote vocal turn taking. When you finish singing a short phrase, wait for the baby to respond. Whenever your baby makes a sound, repeat it back within a simple song format, which could be using the predictable tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.
Don’t be shy about singing to your baby. Your baby will love your musical interactions.
Idea 3. If you are not sure about singing in tune, Every Educaid have some wonderful little tuned metal glockenspiels/chime bars/xylophones that are tuned to concert pitch. Play the low note C softly and start singing on this note. You will tune up your voice and ensure you are singing in the baby’s pitch range C-A.
0 to 6 months
Idea 1. Play all the above. Now, introduce a variety of bells, tambourines, little drums. Hang little bells and maracas on a frame so that the baby has the experience of hitting the objects to reproduce the sound. Follow the baby’s actions and rhythmic patterns. Try singing echo songs following the baby’s lead and incorporating the baby’s name in songs and chants.
Idea 2. Jig, bounce and dance with the baby in time to music. Try singing, dancing, playing instruments with the Julie Wylie CD “Sing and Play”, and dance and sing to folk dances on the Julie Wylie CD “Starting on the Right Foot”.
Idea 3. Play music games, such as “play and stop” to help the baby anticipate the stop. Play this game regularly to help the baby learn to stop for the music cue – using the track “Walk and Stop” and “Sing Baby Dance Baby”. Soon the baby will be leading you in this game without the use of a CD. Change the words of the song to: “play and stop”, “play the drum” and “ring the bells”.
Idea 4. Play pitch games using maracas to emphasize feet, knees, tummy, shoulders, head as you sing up the five-note scale C D E F G to the song “Feet, Feet, Feet” on “Sing Baby Dance Baby”.
6 to 12 months
Idea 1. Play all the above.
Idea 2. Play pitch games. The baby is listening, anticipating and increasingly copying actions, and understanding the purpose of instruments.
Idea 3. Give opportunities to experiment with a variety of instruments and sound objects, such as pots, pans, wooden spoon, and other sound making utensils from the kitchen cupboard.
Idea 4. Follow the child. Follow their movements, introduce actions to action songs.
Idea 5. Play echo games.
Idea 6. Imitate rhythmic patterns, loud/soft, fast/slow, on drums tambourines.
12 to 18 months
Toddlers are much more mobile – walking, climbing, exploring, and they have a vast array of babbling sounds. At this age, children enjoy nursery rhymes, fingerplays and songs that require motor response.
You may also notice that they learn problem solving skills through Musical Play.
Idea 1. Sing nursery rhymes as you play the beat on maracas, drum or tambourine together. This play helps the child to develop a strong sense of steady beat.
Idea 2. Develop sung music routines: “play and stop”, “instruments away”, “time for lunch”, “time for your bath”, “time for bed.” An instrument can be used to signal the specific routine. Try incorporating actions and movements to your sung routines.
Idea 3. Use chants about eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. Reinforce a sensory understanding about body parts by softly shaking a maraca by feet, knees, tummy, shoulders, head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. Play this as a slow imitation game facing each other and give child time to copy action before moving to the next body part.
Idea 4. Do lots of dancing together to drum or tambourine accompaniment.
18 months to 2 years
At this age and stage the child has increased language – they realise that everything has a sound and a name, and they are able to remember and copy actions. The child often sings or hums while playing, enjoying vocal exploration.
You will probably notice that at this age children often repeat a word (or words) over and over and over. They join in with some words of familiar songs, especially at the ends of predictable phrases. They enjoy rhyme, word patterning and instrumental play.
Children at this age tire easily and need the security of a routine. The musical form of a nursery rhyme or song provides a predictable beginning, middle and end.
Idea 1. Play lots of imitation games using drum, tambourine and chime bars.
Idea 2. Play follow the leader games marching and playing drum, tambourine, tapping little claves (sticks).
Idea 3. Explore loud, soft, fast, slow, high, low.
Idea 4. Dance with maracas playing along to familiar songs.
Idea 5. Establish clear music routines.
Idea 6. Use chants, rhymes, accompany on instruments.
Idea 7. Ready stories using musical instruments to reinforce different characters in nursery rhymes or stories.
Most importantly, have fun singing, dancing and playing together. Through your interactive Musical Play, you are laying the foundation of music for life for your child.