1. Modeling – I am lucky to be able to sing at our church and my kids are always there while we practice. Every week they see mom or dad upfront singing. I love Sundays where I look out and they are bobbing their heads, dancing, and clapping along with the music. The biggest surprise is when they start singing the songs at lunch later that same day. Let your kids hear and see you sing. Sing silly, sing fun, sing for real. Kids should feel like singing is a normal form of expression. By singing with and in front of your kids from early on, they will see it as just another way to communicate. Later on, this well help them feel more confident in their singing.
2. Mimicking- Toddlers are primed for learning about music because they love to mimic the things they hear. When you hear them humming, mimic the sounds they are making, as if you are singing together. Then try creating a new ‘song’ for your child to try to mimic. Ear training is a vital part of musicality, this will help them start to develop a natural ear for melody. Use sounds, not words if they aren’t talking very much yet.
3. Rhythm – Encourage your kids to clap along with you to a slow beat. As they get better start changing things up a bit. Once they are good at holding a steady beat you can begin to improvise with new patterns.
4. Repetition- Practice makes perfect! Find out what songs your kids are learning in school or at church and sing them together. If they are watching a show, sing the theme song along with it or any songs in the program. You may be surprised to discover they already know the whole song, even if you never heard them sing. Kids need cues from the others around them of when it is appropriate to sing. By hearing you sing along too, they will know it is time.
5. Confidence- The best tool you can begin to develop in a young musician is confidence. A great way to encourage confidence in young children is to sing silly and pretend to sing opera style with whatever song you sing. For some reason, people really let go when they are being silly. Singers really need to get past their inhibitions in order to clearly and passionately communicate a message. Another great technique to build confidence is to sing speak. I remember playing in my room as a child and singing the narration for my Barbies interactions. Sounds ridiculous, but man, it really helped me develop as a musician.
6. Let them be heard- Musicians must want to be heard if they are going to succeed. Help your children develop confidence in their skills by seeking out opportunities to play or sing. Family get-togethers, church, even pretend performances at home are a great place to start.
7. Give them praise!