1. Use the one finger rule: a child under one year of age can easily be allowed to play with almost any instrument using the “only touch with one finger” rule. Establish this rule early and you won’t have to fight about it later.
2. Know when to make exceptions to the one finger rule: banging on the piano with both hands is sort of a part of childhood. I try to let my son “get away with it” for a few seconds before I seem to notice and return us to the one finger rule.
3. Play lots of recorded music for your child: And not just kids’ music. Jazz, the Beatles, classical – our son loves them all. Find what you like, make sure the lyrics are not awful, and let them enjoy the different beats and sounds.
4. Encourage dancing in your child: The best way to do this is by dancing yourself. Dancing teaches rhythm and coordination, and burns parental calories as well.
5. Buy different kinds of instruments on the cheap: You can get drums, maracas, cymbals, and other fun stuff at garage sales and other discounted places like eBay and Craigslist. Don’t be afraid to let your child have grown up instruments. It is part of the fun and excitement of making music. You need to keep an eye on your kids while they are playing them, obviously, and ensure that used instruments are in good repair, but there is no need to treat them as off limit objects.
6. Burn a playlist for the car of your child’s favorite songs: This makes makes car trips easier, and helps your child memorize a series of songs and lyrics.
7. Have special songs you sing before bed: Not only does this tradition create special memories for you and your child, it helps to signal the end of the day and bring a routine to bedtime. We even have songs for certain tasks, like brushing teeth or taking a bath, that help to make those activities even more enjoyable.
8. Encourage singing along – with the TV, with the radio: At first, your child’s singing will be completely off key (then again, so is my own). It doesn’t matter. The important thing is to convey that singing is a fun and normal thing to do.
9. Emphasize opportunities to clap to the beat: Clapping teaches rhythm and allows children to participate in the music being made. Whether it is on the television, in church, on the radio, or being performed live, music gives your child a chance to show off their clapping skills. Encourage them by clapping yourself.
10. Incorporate singing into your day: Like reading, singing is often most effective in small, child-sized bursts. Singing when you put on shoes, when you clean up toys, or when you prepare food not only distracts your child from a task they may be resisting, but it adds a burst of music into more mundane parts of the day (which helps out everyone).