5 ways to make music with a toddler

Following on from my post about singing with your toddler (you can read that here) I thought I’d write a little post about using instruments with your baby or toddler. I’m sure most people have realised that toddlersjust love making a noise…well my toddler does anyway. She can make an instrument out of anything and will crash and bang to her hearts content. Here are just a few ways that we use musical instruments at home.

  1. Kitchen band. Ok so when I say musical instruments I don’t necessarily mean conventional musical instruments like drums, xylophones and tambourines. You can use so many different things to create instruments and I generally find that until recently my daughter preferred banging random objects than actual instruments. The kitchen band is a brilliant way to keep toddlers entertained whilst you are cooking (so long as you remember not to trip over them). I plonk a range of different pots, pans, tupperware boxes on the kitchen floor and make a little percussion kit. I also use a range of different ‘beaters’ as they all make different sounds. My daughter is particularly fond of the sound of the whisk hitting the colander. Its very loud! She knows where the drawer or wooden spoons, whisks, spatulas etc. is now and will go and help herself.
  2. Make your own percussion instruments. Obviously you can buy your child all kinds of different percussion instruments. My daughter has a whole range of shakers, bells, tambourines and small drums but she actually really enjoys using instruments we have made. A really simple way to do this is just to fill an old plastic  bottle with anything that will make a noise e.g. pasta or rice. The good thing about pasta is toddlers can easily pick up the pieces and put them into the bottle themselves. It’s also good to make a couple using different fillings to see how they sound different. You can then use your shakers in any action songs you like.
  3. Using instruments to respond to music. My daughter has a basket of musical instruments she can choose from. She loves shaking and banging along to music we may be listening to or to songs we are singing. Sometimes we try to keep a beat and she can generally follow along and keep the beat with me. We might talk about the music being quiet and practise shaking/banging quietly or the music being loud and shaking/banging loudly.
  4. Instruments in action songs. My daughter loves using instruments when singing action songs for example The Grand Old Duke of York. When you sing ‘up and down’ you shake the instrument high or low. There are lots of simple songs that help to develop children’s awareness of all sorts of different things e.g. body parts.

Can you shake your egg with me? Shake your egg along with me? It’s as easy as can be
Now put it on your tummy! (Head/Knees/Toes etc.) Sung to the tune of London Bridge. 

5. Chime bars. There is one real musical instrument that I would recommend and that is chime bars. (Basically like a glockenspiel except the bars are separate). I think chime bars are a fantastic instrument for toddlers to play. We have a set of chime bars in a box and at the moment they are one of her favourite things. They are quite big and chunky and therefore easy for her to play. I am so happy that the days of just trying to chew the beater are over and she actually enjoys playing them.

In the beater eating days!

She loves getting the individual bars out of the box and putting them in different orders and then playing them. Chime bars are brilliant because each note is a different colour. We are working on learning the note names. We sing the names of the notes in order C D E F G A B and play them. If I’m trying to teach her a tune (this is something she’s only very slightly getting the hang of at the moment) we can use the colours to help remember which ones to play.

I mentioned in my previous post about how good musical classes are. At classes we have been to toddlers are given the opportunity to wait their turn to choose an instrument, share instruments with others and play together as a group. All such important skills.


 Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria

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