Summer music: listen all around!

Music and summer go together like wine and cheese. So, with these long summer hours stretching before us why not enjoy some musical play in your day?
Music is always a good mood changer and, in our house/car/garden, the mood can sometimes need changing! Putting on a recording or starting to sing is often the magic ingredient that my family needs.
So, if some magic is what you’re after at the moment, why not give these ideas a try?
On a rainy summer’s day, put on your favourite tracks and release those endorphins enjoying a good groove together. Listening to music can cause the release of Dopamine, a feel-good chemical, in the brain. Dancing together is a fun activity for different-aged children, especially if you choose some cheesy 80s hits or the first album you bought! A great chance to have a good laugh and for everyone to show off their moves. Dancing with a baby on your hip is often a good way to stop baby tears (if it doesn’t work, at least you’ll have had some fun!). If you’re keen to improve your child’s listening skills (let’s face it, who isn’t?), why not turn it into a game of musical statues/bumps/chairs?
When you’re out and about, look for opportunities to create music. When your little one is climbing up the steps to a slide, try singing up a musical scale (remember that line sing like no-one’s listening? Well, this is your moment!). When you’re walking along the pavement, you can re-visit the little scale, singing it in time with the steps and maybe moving backwards or sometimes jumping ahead (you’ll be moving onto arpeggios before you know it!).
Play Listening Bingo! Go to a favourite place and spend a few moments listening carefully to the sounds around you. You might be surprised by sounds you haven’t noticed before: people chatting, aeroplanes overhead or a particular animal. It might be enough just to notice them and listen out for them next time, but you could extend the activity by drawing the things that make the sound (or cutting out a picture from a magazine) and putting counters on the picture every time you hear the sound.
Play a game of I hear with my little ear, where the leader identifies a sound that they can hear at that moment, such as an aeroplane or a bird and gives a clue e.g. I hear with my little ear a sound that buzzes/is high/nearby/far away. Everyone guesses and the person with the correct answer takes the next turn.
Name that tune: everyone takes turns to hum or a favourite nursery rhyme, advert jingle or tv theme. Whoever guesses correctly gets the next turn 🙂 This is a wonderful way to improve and develop musical memory as well as to build vocal confidence.
Pot-luck tunes: have some fun switching the radio on to BBC Radio 3 or Classic FM and chat with your family about the music. What sounds can you hear? How do you think these sounds are made? It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the answers, just be creative! Find ways of describing the sounds in terms of high/low, loud/soft or even colours and characters. If this music was a film or cartoon, what would the story be? If you’re in the mood, why not find some ways of moving to the music? And, of course, if you feel like making some noise then grab some wooden spoons and paintbrushes to tap on any tubs or saucepans and make a little family band of your own.
With each of these activities, the joy is in the process of stopping and choosing to be musical. Thankfully music is so much more than getting ready for a concert. It’s a process in which to explore, digest and grow. Sounds like a good plan for a happy family summer.