Dear tuned in parents,
Today is all about family fun.
Most of you connected with me when your first baby was tiny. Now, many of you have bigger families. I had your entire crew in mind when I wrote today’s Tuesday Tune-In on how to use music to bring everyone in your home together, including grandma, grandpa and all the rest.
I don’t know about your family, but mine can sometimes be a little serious. But I have memories of my parents sitting in the front seat of our brown Buick singing harmony together and smiling. No matter what tension happened a moment earlier, music seemed to be the salve.
Those kind of memories shape us. We try to recreate moments from our childhood that felt most connected and happy. Of course we also try to recreate moments that felt most difficult. We’ll leave that for therapy.
For now, let’s work on having experiences with our kids that feel free, joyful, and loving. The more we do the more it will teach them how to make those moments happen on their own. Who knows? maybe their whole career will be informed by it (See: Baby in Tune.)
Here are 5 activities that work for any age:
Recently, I was in Florida with my extended family. My mother had just bought a Madonna circa Express Yourself tour type microphone and a small speaker for a project she was doing and it gave me an idea. After dessert, we connected it to the television and – voila! We had a karaoke set-up. These days it’s so much easier to set up karaoke than it used to be. In fact, all you need is YouTube. YouTube now has endless karaoke tracks of instrumentals songs and scrolling lyrics.
The youngest picked their songs first. There were lead singers and backup singers who enthusiastically belted out the chorus. It made my sometimes-serious family really loosen up.
If you want to take it to the next level, and I really think it’s quite necessary, invest in a small microphone and speaker. It doesn’t have to be fancy. And you don’t even need to get a microphone stand. You can get a lavalier which is a microphone that goes around your head.
- DJ in the car
How are your long car rides these days? Ours have been saved by two things: podcasts and car DJ. I’ll talk about my favorite podcasts in another blog. Let’s talk DJ.
The idea is that each family member gets to pick one song and we go around in turns.
For instance: my four-year-old daughter always chooses “Sofia the First,” my eight-year-old loves that song “Go the Distance” from Hercules. And my 10-year-old has been digging the a cappella group Pentatonix. I may choose an Elton John song and my husband often goes for a song by Arik Einstein or another Israeli singer.
What I love about this game is that we all get to listen to each other’s songs of the moment.
Sharing songs is like sharing a feeling. When we all sit and listen quietly to another family member’s song we feel HEARD, and happy that the people we love may also develop a love for that song.
- Dance parties
All of you who have taken my classes know that I’m all about dance parties. I especially love them at the witching hour. What could be better than pulling out your favorite dance song and getting down right when you thought life sucked the most? You know what it does? It makes it all better. And when you do it with the whole family, it turns it into a moment you don’t want to forget. Try it tonight. You’ll see.
- Call-and-answer songs
For those who went to camp this one might sound familiar. Call and answer songs are the ones where a group will sing something and one person will have to respond. For instance: “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” These kind of songs get everyone singing and brings even the quietest family member who didn’t want to play into it.
When I was a kid, we used to sing a song called Loddy Lo Chubby Checker. I am so glad I am writing this blog because until now I kind of thought my parents had made it up. But it’s a thing! I love this one because we would make up verses and rhymes and then the whole family would sing – “Hey loddy loddy lo!”
I have no doubt that that song had a big influence in teaching me how to write songs and how to rhyme. It teaches kids to stay in rhythm and think on their feet.
- Sound orchestra
This one is my favorite. I actually haven’t done this with my family yet but as I was brainstorming for this blog I remembered this. I can’t wait to try it.
Here’s what it is: One person starts some kind of repetitive sound. It can be non-vocal like tapping your knees, making a funny sound on the car seat or tapping things together. Or it can be vocal like a melody, a repetitive baseline or clucking your tongue.
After that person has done their sound for a few moments, another person comes in with their sound. Then another, then another. Eventually a soundscape is created with everyone’s sounds together. It’s always so fun to be the last to add your sound to the orchestra, too. You’re able to fill the space with what is needed – a very high melody, a syncopated rhythmic sound, or a bass line to glue it all together.
I remember one time when I was eight and in the car with my cousins, on my turn, I repeated words on a highway sign – “Tuckerton Lumber, Tuckerton Lumber” – in my lowest voice and accentuated the T and the K. To this day, every now and then one of my cousins will break into a round of “Tuckerton Lumber.” It was a hook!
Now you have 5 new tricks for making your family time a bit more musical and a bit more fun at any age. It may even be a moment that you and your child remember years and years from now.
How do you use music for family QT? Reply and let me know.
And what artists and tracks are your go-to for these moments? Comment here because we all need inspiration.
Have a friend who wants ideas for family time? Make their day and forward this along.
Let’s be honest we can only play board games and do puzzles for so long