Living Musically ~ by Jessica Fielding

A WFS Faculty Blog post by Jessica Fielding (Music Teacher)
Published Thursday, July 29, 2021

Music helps us to express ourselves, think critically, and feel joy. It can continue to hold a place in your child’s daily life, even when school isn’t in session. 

Music is not reserved for classical instruments or standard notation. To be a musical person is to enjoy music, to allow it to inspire you and take you on a journey. Perhaps you even create something beautiful in the process. 

I would like to share with you five ways you can begin this adventure with your child. 

1. Create music-inspired sidewalk chalk drawings sidewalk chalk

Last school year, students explored the composer Amy Beach and her experience with synesthesia, a condition which links senses that normally have no relation, such as sight and sound. Amy Beach is one example of a composer who could see sound as color, which drives the imagery and complexity of her music. 

Melissa McCraken is a Kansas City based artist with synesthesia, who creates on canvas what she hears. Her pieces are engaging, insightful glimpses into the world of music through a lens that most of us cannot see. 

Music has the power to make us feel emotion, to move us, and to drive our imaginations. What do you see when you hear a song? What do you imagine it looks like? Can you put a color to it? 

Inspire creativity with your child and create something beautiful, fun, or crazy. Try grabbing some chalk and heading outside with your child. Listen to their favorite music and see what you can create together. 

Headphones listening2. Listen to a film score soundtrack 

Listening to a film soundtrack is one of my favorite road trip pastimes. If you pick a movie your child loves, they will be able to see the film unfold in front of themselves. As soon as I hear the first five notes of Harry Potter’s intro, I know exactly on what adventure I will be going. When you listen without the images, you can experience the story like never before. 

What’s happening in the movie now? How did you know? These questions could lead you on a critical story of music, storytelling, and imagery… or perhaps a lengthy explanation of Quidditch! Either way, music will guide your conversation. 

3. Attend an outdoor concert Philadelphia Orchestra

The only thing better than listening to a film score is seeing it performed live! The Philadelphia Orchestra performs live along to your favorite movies throughout the year. This activity is incredible for all ages and a wonderful way to introduce your child to live orchestral music. 

You can explore upcoming events at their website.

Outdoor concertPhiladelphia Family also has a great comprehensive list of music for families in the area. No matter the genre, location, or date there is something for everyone. Seeing music performed live can inspire children to pursue an instrument; I know that’s how I began the flute! 

4. Create music together sheet music

Creating music together can be an eye-opening experience to your child’s musical interests and tastes. 

Do you have instruments? Maybe even read music? Then a jam session might be the way to go! Your child can compose and pick the notes while you annotate. You can even commemorate your collaborative project by putting your notation into the free website Noteflight and print and frame your masterpiece! 

Another favorite alternative is to create using a free composition website. Groove Pizza  is a great choice for 5th-grade students and younger. This interactive website uses a foundation of shapes and patterns to create musical rhythms in various genres. Just remember to press the share button and save your composition! 

Soundtrap is a great alternative for middle school students. Many of our Westfield students already have experience with this site and might even have a student account. With your guidance, you and your student can create an account with a personal email, and create voice recordings, electronic music mixes, piano pieces, or even podcasts. Soundtrap has many tracks already completed that you can simply layer to create your own compositions. 

This site provides a 30 day free trial period, which rolls into a $9.99 monthly subscription fee. 

funny faces5. Musicing with your youngest  

Many of these ideas work well for older children, but not always for your preschooler. The best way to be musical with your little one is to follow their lead. When they babble, babble with them. Copy, repeat, improvise, and engage with whatever musical sounds they are making. 

This type of interaction is not only developmentally necessary for speech, but also for music. They are experiencing and laying the foundation of their rhythm and pitch skills. 

This may sound simple, but the challenge is catching them in their musical moment, whenever or wherever it may be, and joining in on the fun! 

No matter what idea inspires you, I hope you can connect, create, and find joy with your child through music!