As we wrap up our month-long exploration of learning at home, we wanted to turn our attention to music. Children love music, but many parents feel silly or stumped and unsure how to proceed with their very limited repertoire. That's why we decided to ask an expert. Miss Aimee Leigh is known and loved throughout Chicago for her rollicking playgroups and parties. Here are a few of her tips: "Music is a puzzle of language and rhythm. It’s linguistics, mathematics, science - how does an instrument make a sound? What is sound? There are so many fun, creative ways to teach and learn through music. Combining movement and music helps develop spatial awareness, coordination and muscle control. It’s great to sing the ABCs, but singing the ABCs while pounding a pot with a wooden spoon is awesome. A dance party in the living room can be an exercise in listening and communication skills. Most pop songs have a distinct separation between verses and a chorus (the part that comes up over and over). Use these different parts of a song to call out different movements. You can hop for one verse, march during the chorus, then skip for the next verse. The kids will learn to anticipate when the music will change. You can up the ante by holding a remote control with a pause function and making a 'freeze dance.' This type of active listening is a very valuable exercise for all of us.
I like to retrofit old songs to relate directly to a child. Instead of singing and clapping to the classic B-I-N-G-O song, use your child’s name or the name of a favorite stuffed animal. Instead of Old MacDonald having a farm, why can’t Old MacSam have a gas station? It’s all about taking the original nouns out of the song and inserting new ones. We know the tune already, so writing a song becomes very easy and satisfying. Let your child fill in the spaces with all kinds of silly suggestions. This is a fun and often hilarious exercise in composition. Some other good songs for this game are Itsy Bitsy Dumptruck and Twinkle Twinkle Little Cat. Write down your favorite mash-ups and draw a picture to go along with your song creations." Thanks, Miss Aimee Leigh! Catch up with Aimee on her website, where you can find out about playgroups, book a party, or preview and purchase her excellent CD, Can You Come Out And Play?