With Christmas just around the corner, grandparents, aunties and uncles start asking "What does your little one want for Christmas?" If your house is like most - they don't actually NEED anything but many relatives insist that Christmas is all about gifts.
So, what to suggest?
How about a musical gift? Something that will help your child become tuneful, beatful and artful...
But beware, not all musical gifts are created equal! Some make such horrible sounds they will actually harm your child's musicality, others will drive the adults crazy, while yet others will be outgrown in a matter of months.
Here are my top tips for buying musical gifts:
1. Quality not quantity
When purchasing musical instruments, it is far better to have one quality item that produces a beautiful sound than many awful ones.
So, instead of buying the collection of five plastic preschool 'instruments' opt for one quality instrument. Like this set of rosewood claves available from Optimum Percussion for $35.99.
Or a mini djembe from African Drumming for $38.00.
Or instead of choosing a toy guitar, purchase a real ukulele! That way, when they grow older, they'll have an instrument just waiting for them to learn. And in the meantime, you can teach yourself to play!
Try the world's biggest selling model, the Mahalo U30 in a rainbow of colours from Music Works Magic for $39.95.
2. Acoustic not digital
Whenever possible, choose an instrument that makes real sounds rather than a battery operated imitation. Trust me - your adult ears will be grateful and your child's will be too!
So, instead of buying this...
...try the Angel 8-bar chime set from Optimum Percussion at $34.95.
The lovely thing about the Angel chime set is that the bars are removable so you can take out some notes to leave your child with a improvisation tone set that will be beautiful to the ears no matter which note they hit.
Try F A C for a basic major chord - goes well with 'Row, row, row your boat'
C D E G A C makes a pentatonic scale - sing 'Ring-a-ring-a-rosie'
D F A will create a minor chord - anyone remember 'Ah poor bird' from school?
3. Recorded music
Kids love listening to music in the car or at bedtime so why not ask for some new albums for their collection? I can't recommend the collections from Dr John Feierabend highly enough. Find them on the iTunes store.
4. Books to sing
Oh my - two of my favourite things in the world! Books and singing all wrapped up into one. These will become treasured items on your bookshelves and memories that last a lifetime. Again, you won't go wrong with the collection of SongTales from Dr John Feierabend. Each hardcover book is beautifully illustrated and comes with a downloadable recording. Here are just a few in the series (click on the images for a link to purchase online).
5. Musical experiences
And if you really don't want any more 'stuff' in your life (see Lucy's post 'Don't stuff up') then explore some real-life musical experiences instead:
- Ask for enrolment fees for a quality developmental and sequential music program.
Locally in Geelong, I offer classes at Let's Make Music! but if you are looking in another area, just be sure to ask lots of questions about the educational philosophy of the program you are looking at and ask for a trial class before committing. The quality of the program and musicality of the teacher DOES matter.
- Live concert
Think carefully about what your child will enjoy. Some children will love going to a big auditorium with loud music and lots of people, others will find this completely overwhelming. If you're in Victoria, check out the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's Jams for Juniors program created especially for 0-5 year olds.
- Music festival for the whole family
And if you like the idea of a gift that gives to the whole family, then why not suggest tickets to a festival? Many festivals cater for the whole family with areas especially for kids. If you're in Victoria, check out The Lost Lands festival at Werribee Mansion or the Queenscliff Music Festival.