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Home Music Education Series: High & Low Sounds

This is Part 1 of 10 of our Home Music Education Series, designed to empower parents to foster their children's musical development at home. Today we'll be exploring how to improve auditory descrimination between high and low sounds!

Home music education is most effective when paired with purposeful play during everyday activities.

There is no need to sit down in a class-like environment and quiz your child to improve their musical literacy. Instead, try using your existing routines and activites in a purposeful way to create natural learning experiences and connections throughout the week.

Often, children can hear that sounds are different, but lack the working vocabulary to describe the sound. Creating opportunities to connect certain sounds to "high" or "low" will help your child learn to listen and describe what they hear. Here are some easy ideas of how you can help your child discern between high and low sounds throughout your day:

  1. Listening activites: As children play with favorite toys, start by simply noticing and commenting on what kind of sound they make. "Wow, that toy makes a very high squeaking sound!" Then, after making these connections, try asking if these toys make a high sound or a low sound.

  2. Movement and actions: Create your own game by connecting large-muscle group body motions with sounds. Children may reach high when they hear high sounds, or down to the ground when they hear low sounds. Try adapting an existing game like "Red Light, Green Light" to the new terminology - children can move forward when they hear high sounds, and stop with they hear low sounds, and vice-versa.

  3. Visual Aids: For students enrolled in my Music for Little Mozarts class, we use Mozart Mouse to represent high sounds and Beethoven Bear to represent low sounds. You can come up with your own visual aids, or even use your child's stuffies to create these connections (example: a lion for low sounds, and a bird for high sounds.)

  4. Vocal games: Children love to be silly, so take high and low sounds to the extreme during daily conversations and songs. Vocal echo games are particularly fun and get silly fast! Try having your child imitate either a word, melody, or sound that you make in a high or low sound, then switch and let them be the leader while you echo.

  5. Nature walks: At the park or in your backyard, listen for sounds in the environment like birds, dogs, airplanes, cars, etc. Start by first noticing and commenting on these things "Do you hear that really high bird sound? Let's see if we can sound like that bird!" and progress to asking "Did you hear that bird? Did it make a high or low sound?"

  6. Storytelling: Incorporate high and low voices into your usual bedtime story routine (for example, a high voice for a tiny bird, and a low voice for a big dragon.)

  7. Singing: For students enrolled in Music for Little Mozarts group classes, we have LOTS of songs reviewing these concepts. Be sure to sing these simple songs together throughout the week to help solidify the connection between the vocabulary and the sound.

  8. Repetition and reinforcement: While the concept seems simple to adults, children require quite a bit of repetition when acquiring vocabulary to describe sound for the first time. Be patient and keep the learning experience light and fun! Children will catch on with time.

There are many different levels of competency students will need to work through. As you complete these activities, try to introduce each one in this order:

  1. Listening and noticing: Simply notice and sounds and provide your child with the vocabulary needed. "Wow, listen to that high bird sound!"

  2. Vocal imitation: Keep providing the vocabulary, and vocally imitate the sound. "Let's make a high sound like that bird we heard!" or "Let's be silly and talk in a high voice today." Internalizing and producing sound vocally is the quickest way to make these connections.

  3. Auditory Discernment: Ask your child to match the vocabulary to the sound. Provide a reference point, like "Was that sound high like a bird, or low like a bear?"

  4. Auditory Comparison: Once all of the other steps are solid, move on to comparing two sounds by asking questions like "Which sound is higher?" or "Is this sound higher or lower than the first sound?" This is a more advanced skill that will require building a firm foundation, so don't rush to get here until your child is very secure on all the other steps.

Remember, for best results, keep these activities low-pressure and part of your child's everyday activities. It will take time to make the connection between sound and vocabulary, but there is no rush for this to happen. Follow your child's lead and move through these activities as they're ready.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment below with any questions. Have a musical week!

24 views1 comment




Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

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