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Home Music Education Series: Loud Sounds & Soft Sounds

This is Part 3 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 further improve auditory descrimination between loud sounds and soft sounds.

Children holding classroom percussion instruments

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

Most children already have a good grasp of the concept of loud and soft sounds before beginning formal music education. However, there are many activites you can do together at home to help improve hearing smaller distinctions in the volume of sound, as well as being able to describe sounds in terms of both volume and pitch.

A common misunderstanding that beginning musicians often have is that volume and pitch are related. However, this is not the case as both high and low sounds can be either loud or quiet. As you work through the following activities, make sure to explore loud low sounds, loud high sounds, quiet low sounds, and quiet high sounds. It is important that beginning students are noticing that high/low and loud/soft are describing two different aspects of sound: pitch and volume, respectively.

Here are some fun, easy activities you can try at home:

  1. Echo back: Demonstrate making sounds, saying phrases, or singing melodies. You can try doing these in a combination of ways, such as loud low sounds, loud high sounds, quiet low sounds, and quiet high sounds. You child should then try to imitate you. Keep this activity silly and fun! For bonus points, include descriptive large-muscle group motions along with your demonstrations.

  2. Use Percussion Instruments: Play with your child's toy drums or bells. Demonstrate how using large motions creates loud sounds, while small motions create soft sounds. You can combine this with the "Echo Back" activity above.

  3. Storytelling: Choose books that focus on loud and soft sounds. As you read, illustrate the sound by reading louder or softer. A favorite book we read in Music for Little Mozarts classes is "Thump Thump, Rat-a-Tat-Tat" by Gene Baer. Listen to the story here!

  4. Musical exploration: Explore different musical genres with your child. Explore how some music can be loud and some music can be soft. Remember to differentiate between loud vs. fast and soft vs. slow - they don't always go together!

  5. Act it out: Pretend to be different animals or other favorite characters. Practice being loud like lions, quiet like cats, or anything else you can imagine.

  6. Reinforcement through play: Incorporate these concepts into existing games. For example, play Simon Says and try something like "Simon Says clap softly." Many other games can incorporate musical concepts - even if it's just for a moment, it's sure to make a lasting memory!

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!

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