Sometimes the daily tasks make it difficult to find time to make music with our families. In fact, we could probably say this is true for just about any activity we love or wish had more time to do, such as reading, hiking, or whatever. When it comes to music, you may feel like there is a myriad of tasks that distract from focused music time with your kids. In this article, I’m going to show you four ways that you can make the most of your time by adding a little music.
Sing Everywhere Like You Own It
When I was in graduate school, I had an office on the top floor of the music building. Almost every morning as I would climb the stairs a music theatre major would just start singing at random.
Now, I’m not talking a little tune. Nope, they (this was a different person almost everyday) would strike a pose with their arms spread and just start singing as loud as they could.
To be honest, I loved it. These college students found true and unabashed joy in singing. The strangest part was that no one was ever around, well except me, which they didn’t seem to mind. Instead, they were alone singing their heart out.
So, what is the point of this story? Well, sing everywhere you can. I know this sounds like something from The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews, but just singing whenever you get a chance or the urge strikes you is a great way to find more time to sing. Plus, if you do it, so will your kids.
The formula is simple. Sing in the car. Sing while you work. Sing before you sleep. Sing in the shower. Sing before dinner. Sing after breakfast. Just sing.
Drum on Everything
During the summers when I was in college, I worked as a drummer at Knott’s Berry Farm with three other drummers (I know this sounds like a nightmare for some). Of course, one of the advantages of playing music for a living is that between performances there is lots of downtime to practice, read, or whatever.
We used to play on everything. We would drum on banisters, tables, sofas, and anything we encountered. Sometimes we would even just play on something to see what it sounded like. We even drummed in the bathroom. Yep, you knew someone was in the bathroom because they would drum on the bathrooms floor tiles, which sounded very cool.
Now, am I telling you and your kids to start drumming in the bathroom? If you want to, but a great way to make music is simply to drum. You can drum on your legs, counter top, steering wheel, table, boxes, soda cans, or anything you get your hands on.
Now this may sound annoying, but when everyone joins in it is a blast. One of my favorite places to drum is in elevators because they sound amazing and it can be family experience. The second the door closes, I start jamming on the walls and my kids join in. The best part is when they hear the door ding, they’ll stop with me and maintain calm composure; then, we’ll begin again once the door closes (this always gets a good laugh). When we get out of the elevator there is a sense of togetherness.
Of course, this is not limited to elevators. Simply put, drum everywhere you can with your family.
Always Have An Instrument
In my house there I encourage my kids to carry a book with them. So, why do have them do this? The reason is simple, when they have a few spare minutes here or there, they read little and complete more books.
The same is true if you have an instrument with you all the time. If you carry an instrument with you, you’ll play it more and the better you will get.
Jimi Hendrix used to carry his guitar everywhere he went, which is why he was so good. Basically, he constantly played his guitar.
Now, I know the practical side of you is saying, “You want me to carry a big ole guitar around, that’s crazy.” Here I’ll have to agree with you. But, having an instrument handy is great.
Here are a few recommendations for getting more instrument time for you or your kids. Throw a ukulele in your backpack; bring it on car rides or to soccer games. If you carry a purse, diaper bag, or backpack, keep some shakers or a harmonica handy. You can have drumsticks in your car; so you and your kids can play along with tunes. If you go camping, to the beach, or on a picnic, bring a guitar with you. The point is the more you play, the better you and your kids will get. Plus, you’ll have a blast.
Seize All Musical Moments Like a Boss
There may be nothing more rockin’ than an impromptu car jam session. Perhaps visions of Wayne and Garth from the 1990s film Wayne’s World pops in your head.
The car jam session, where you sing, play on the steering wheel (don’t drum and drive), and your kids jam on the doors, is a great way to connect to each other and the music.
Likewise, you can make music to any audio recording. The main goal here is to play along with the music. Now there absolutely times that just listening to the music, can provide a fulfilling experience. But, playing along with the music will help you develop musical skills, like tempo, pitch, and so on. Plus, you there is a connection that is made with the music, which you can read more about in my book Music at Home (yes, that was a shameless plug, but there is a whole chapter on touching the music, see below).
Get Out There and Make Some Noise
If you’re struggling to find time to make music or just want more opportunities following the advice above will give you a lot more time. It might not seem like much, but these activities with supercharge your family’s musical experiences.
So, sing everywhere you can, don’t be embarrassed, just sing. Yes people who tap on everything can be annoying, but they usually have great rhythm and when you’re doing it together, its magical. Whenever you can, carry an instrument with you because you’ll never play unless its there. Last, have a blast making music together anytime and anywhere.
Well, what are you doing? Stop reading this article and go make some music with your family.
John Owens, Ph.D. is the author of Music at Home: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Musically Insightful Kids. Check out his upcoming books, articles, and courses at johncomowensmusicathome.