A lot of children are at home right now, but that doesn’t mean music education needs to suffer. On the contrary, children can learn a ton at home that will help them the rest of their lives.

Children learn the language of music like they learn spoken language–by hearing it over and over. And over. So if you’re unsure how to teach music to children, start by singing to them and with them. A lot.

It’s better to train the ear to hear music before training the eye to read it.

In addition to singing with your children, play great recordings for them. By playing good quality music, you will develop their taste for quality music, and you will develop their ear for music. Many times music teachers try to teach students how to read music before the students have developed a good ear for it (ask me, I’ve tried it), but it’s better to train the ear to hear before training the eye to read.

Singing and listening to music at home trains your children’s ears to hear how music fits together even though they don’t understand how it fits together. In the same way, a child can understand how letters and words go together without knowing what a letter is. Listening to good music sung well also shapes how children sing because they model what they hear.

When and How to Play Recordings

The great thing about singing and listening to music with your children is that it doesn’t require a lot of time, expense, or effort. It just requires consistency. Here are a few ideas for how to consistently play recordings in your home.

Pick a hymn of the week for your family to memorize, and play a good recording of the hymn at every meal. It only takes a few minutes, and it gives you a break from the chatter of the day when the children have to sit quietly and listen while they eat.

Make a hymn playlist on your computer, phone, or other electronic device and play it at strategic times such as:

  • during the chaotic 20 minutes before a meal
  • while cleaning up after a meal
  • while children are getting ready for bed
  • while driving
  • at a specified time each week (we have a playlist that we play every Sunday morning from before the children get up until we get home from church)

Recommended Recordings

Here are some recordings that I highly recommend playing for your children. They have good quality songs that are sometimes arranged and sometimes sung straight out of the hymnal, sometimes a cappella, and sometimes orchestrated or accompanied by piano or organ. Some of the links are affiliate links.

  • Hymns Triumphant CD or digital download
    • Tastefully arranged, beautifully orchestrated medleys of hymns
    • Because of all the medleys, parts of many songs appear in this collection making it not as good for memorization but very good for exposure to many different songs
  • Oasis Chorale, Hymns of the Church
    • Songs from Hymns of the Church sung expressively with little or no arranging
    • A cappella
    • Great for memorization
    • Available in three volumes: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3

  • Altar of Praise Chorale
    • Many recordings available of classic hymns and gospel songs
    • A cappella
    • 16 CDs available, a huge resource
  • St. Olaf Choir, Great Hymns of Faith
    • Includes old songs as well as many recently written songs, all sung with excellence and artistry
    • Some songs are a cappella, some are accompanied with piano, organ, or brass instruments
    • Available in three volumes: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3

Singing with your children and playing recordings for them is an excellent way to prepare them to learn music in school or private lessons. If you play and sing great songs with your children starting at a young age and enjoy the learning process with them, they will learn to love great music, music that nourishes the soul and spirit, and they will have a head start when the time comes for them to learn to read music. Some of you have a window of opportunity in front of you. Now is the time to start. You can totally do this.