Teaching Preschool Music Classes

Activities and suggestions for teaching preschoolers about music.

If you're a musician but you've never taught preschool music classes before, you're in for a difficult time. However, with a few simple ideas, you'll be well-prepared to handle your class.

First of all, request to come in at a time when the kids are likely to be a bit settled - not after they've just had to sit still for story time or another lesson. They'll never pay any attention to you. Plan a mix of activities, so that when they get restless (as they inevitably will), you can get them up and moving a little bit.

Some ideas: make sure that everything you have is large and brightly-colored, because it will catch their attention better. Have plenty of interesting music for them to listen to, including some that is already familiar to them. Don't be afraid to get down on the floor and play with them. They won't understand what you're trying to do with them unless you show them and do it, too. Once they do understand, they'll likely be very good at their new skill.



Possible activities:

Creative Movement - Put on a classical piece that changes dynamic levels fairly often. Demonstrate for the children making yourself as small as you can when the music's quiet, and as big as you can when the music's loud. Demonstrate "growing" with the music, then ask the children to do it. Talk to them as the music's on, and "grow" and "shrink" with them. It will give them a sense of dynamics in the music.

Interpretation in Drawing - Give the kids a crayon and paper, and ask them to draw what they hear in the music. Expect scribbling from kids three or under, but actual pictures from older kids. Don't tell them the title of the music, because this can affect their interpretation of the music.

Rhythm sticks - Hand each child (three or older) a pair of rhythm sticks (one foot long, a half inch in diameter, and brightly colored) and ask them to repeat after you. Play a simple rhythm and ask them to play it, too. They can also clap, if you'd rather not use rhythm sticks.

Follow the Leader - Use rhythm sticks or hand clapping for this, too. Ask one child to lead around the room, clapping or tapping at the same speed as they're walking (demonstrate). This will give them a sense of rhythm throughout their bodies.

Sing-a-longs - Put on a familiar song and ask the children to sing with you. Then, try putting a new song on and singing that. Songs that are about some aspect of life they're trying to learn (such as tying shoes) are often a good choice. You can also find songs that talk about some aspect of life they're not familiar with yet, like kids in other cultures (Raffi is good for this). Use songs to help them learn.

Dancing - Ask the children to dance to music. Encourage them to find the beat and hop to it, or sway to it.

Bells or other toys - Use bells or other inexpensive, tuned instruments to teach the children about basic scales and how to play songs. Teach them to sing the songs, then to play them. You can also teach them solfege (do re mi) to help them learn.

Keep in mind that preschool children won't understand most explanations and can't read, so they must learn by doing. Be flexible with them, and always have a back up plan. Keep them active, keep them learning, and keep them interested in what they're doing. Teach them about music, and teach them about other aspects of life through music. This is the best way to teach young students.

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