By Suzi Shelton

As a working mom, it is really important to me to spend as much time as possible with my kids. On the weekends, sometimes this means going to the park with our puppy, and sometimes this means that they have to come to work with me.

My son Sebastian has been performing with me since he was a baby. Now at 15, he plays a variety of instruments, and was recently the emcee for my CD Release Party this past Sunday, where he charmed the audience with his style and finesse.

My nine-year-old daughter Emma sings and dances with me as one of my backup singers, and my stepson Cole, at 6 years, plays harmonica and shouts out the words “Go, Fire Truck, Go!” for even the spectators in the back row to hear.
At these shows, I couldn’t be happier, or feel more proud that my kids are having fun with music.

Not every family shares this same opportunity to perform onstage together, but there are many ways to make music with your kids right at home. Making music with your kids fosters a curiosity and love of music, and also allows for real connections and family bonding.

Here are some fun and easy suggestions for making music with your kids.

1. Sing!

…and I mean sing about anything! Look around your kids’ room, or perhaps the kitchen or living room, and find things that are silly or interesting to your kids and – well, make up some words and sing! For example “I love peanut butter, I love cake, I love dumplings when they’re on my plate!”

2. Use Found Objects

We have used oatmeal containers as drums, chopsticks as great rhythm sticks, and plastic cups that make cool sounds when tapped on the table. Find some objects around the house and make up your own rhythm section to play along to your favorite music.

3. Down Time as Musical Bonding Time

The car is one of the best places for us to connect musically. When driving around from lesson to lesson, or while stuck in traffic, we always have a bunch of random CD’s on hand to pop into the CD player. Some of the music is my choice, and some of it (most of it) is what my kids want to listen to… but no matter what, try to connect with each other this way and turn down time into bonding time.

4. Keep Instruments Out

We have many instruments, such as a keyboard, drums, guitar, ukes, dulcimer and even a kalimba (thumb piano) that are always out and ready for someone to play. It doesn’t matter if you or your kids are not professionally trained – just having the instruments out to play is good for creating new songs and fostering musical curiosity. The lessons can always come when the time is right.

5. Have Fun!

Don’t think too much about it or try to plan too many goals for making music with your kids. Just go with the flow and have fun. The key is to connect with your family using music as your tool. Your kids will take your cues and will want to join you if they see that you are having fun.

A couple of Suzi’s songs are featured on this free download Mother’s Day playlist, too:

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