Set up a simple Montessori music nook in your home or classroom to introduce your child to a variety of wonderful music. You don’t have to be a music buff or concertmaster to help your child discover the world beyond the Wiggles. Maybe she’ll be inspired to learn an instrument herself!
In a world that is saturated with so many noises, how can we help our students and children to appreciate good music?
While we don’t want kids to get too plugged in, we can use technology to our advantage. If we keep in mind a few helpful Montessori principles, we can introduce kids to music in a way that helps them to truly appreciate and savor it.
One way to do this is by creating a Montessori music nook.
How to Set Up a Montessori Music Nook
Begin by choosing an area of your classroom or home where your kids can sit, one at a time, and listen to music. You can make the music nook part of your reading nook, or you can set aside a separate area. Another option is to set up a music basket on a shelf and allow the children to take it to a table or floor mat, as they would any other work.
Next, gather a few supplies:
- A CD player or iPod, etc. (If you can get ahold of a small walkman CD player, that – in my opinion – would be perfect. Then it’s easy to make one or two CD’s available at a time. An iPod would be fine as long as you don’t mind switching out the music every week or so. See below on limits.)
- A set of earbuds or headphones
- A few CD’s or playlists
- A small basket to hold everything
- A dedicated chair or cushion (optional)
Then invite one child at a time to use the music nook. Show him how to carefully use the materials, and explain that the headphones are so he can listen to music while the other students are concentrating on different work. Show him where the volume needs to stay (mark it in red on the dial, if possible.) Explain the routine and any other limits.
Montessori Principles to Keep In Mind
- Give the child keys to the world. In a Montessori classroom, children see glimpses of the world, enough to spark their interest and encourage them to discover more. When setting up a music nook, don’t just sync your entire iTunes library onto an iPod and hand it over. The goal is to introduce the child to the world of great and beautiful music, so he can be inspired to enter more deeply into that world if he wants to. (e.g. through music lessons, music study, etc.) The best way to do this is to give a little at a time. (See below.)
- Freedom within limits. This principle will help keep our kids from getting too plugged in. It’s up to you, the parent or teacher, to set the specifics, but here’s what freedom and limits might look like for a music nook. Freedom: the child can choose when or if he wants to listen to music. Limits: there is only one CD player, so only one child can use it at a time; you choose which one or two CDs will be set out each day, how high the volume can be, (mark it in red on the dial) how long she can stay in the music nook, etc. (Read more about freedom and limits here.)
- Give the child the best. Aaron Copland and the Beatles, if you’re asking me. Don’t give her Baby Mozart, just give her Mozart. Nobody is too young for symphonies.
- Follow the child. The above being said, if your kids love “The Muffin Man,” give them “The Muffin Man.” Or if a student expresses interest in the harmonica, find him a Toots Thielemans CD.
A Few More Tips
- As a class or a family, you can study a new composer, band, or type of music each week or month. For example, one week you can set out a Chopin CD, and later a Beethoven CD. Then next month, you can move on to world music, or storytellers, or bluegrass. You can listen to the music altogether outside of class/work time, e.g. during lunch, in the car, or at the end of the day.
- Supplement the music nook with other Montessori music materials, such as the bells, musical instruments, or classified cards that teach the names of instruments, notes, etc.
Got any tips for introducing music to children? Share them, and your favorite music, with us in the comments!