Monkey Rock Music: Kids Music Doesn’t Have to Drive Parents Crazy

John King is the director of Monkey Rock Music, which offers music classes for young children (ages 0-4 years) and their adult caregivers in Ottawa and Montreal.

Let’s be honest - listening to kids’ music is the worst

Sharing music with your child from a young age will result in a lifelong interest in being a part of music. That interest will hopefully lead to wanting to take dance lessons, singing lessons, piano lessons, or at least the high score in Guitar Hero. But most kids’ music is saccharine, canned drum beat, earworm garbage.

Fortunately, sharing music with your child does not have to mean children’s music by any stretch of the imagination. Share the music YOU love. Dance around your kitchen with your baby to Drake, crank Cardi B in the car, start a toddler mosh pit to Nirvana. Your child will take your love of music from you and run with it. This, above all else, will make music meaningful for your children.

This is why Monkey Rock Music always includes a rock and roll sing along in their classes, something parents know and can get into - Wonderwall, Shake It Off, Brown Eyed Girl, etc. Our album might be the only hard rock kids’ music on the market. Amps at 11.

Monkey Rock Music Kids Music Program

Engaging in music

The key to engaging anyone in music is to make it easy to be a part of - sick beats make you want to dance; catchy riffs make you want to sing along. One of the biggest mistakes music teachers make is to try and ‘teach’ music at too young an age. For toddlers, the only goal should be to show them they can be a part of music - and it can be fun.

Music for young children should be 100% participatory, with simple, repetitive actions - ideally with interactions between parent and child. Programs should balance introducing new songs to keep things interesting, with repeating past songs to help young singers learn the music and lyrics. We even provide families with videos of our staff performing the songs, so kids can practice at home while still maintaining that connection to their weekly rock star hero.

Monkey Rock Music Lesson

The point: You need to have fun

Don’t do any music program with your kids that you don’t enjoy. You set the tone in all things for your child from the moment they’re born, and if you’re not having fun, they can tell. The best parent/child programs get this, and will focus as much on your enjoyment as the babies’ - being a parent of a young child is HARD, and any classes you take should make it easier.

Monkey Rock Music Guitar

Music Under a Midnight Moon: A Children's Theatre Review

I decided that for my birthday I would like to take my son to see some cultural and educational performances.  Naturally, I started by perusing the National Arts Centre website.  I was pleased to find a series of three performances including orchestral and theatrical components directed specifically to children.  Prices were also reasonable $20 per adult ticket, $12 per child ticket.  Total cost for us was just under $100 for 3 performances. This past Saturday January 12th, I took my 5 yr old to see Music Under a Midnight Moon at the National Arts Centre.  This was our first experience with children's theatre and we both could not have enjoyed it more!  We arrived a little early to ensure we could find parking, visit the washroom, and make a wish in the fountain.  We were prepared for a bit of a wait before the scheduled start time, but to my surprise there were activities for the wee ones set up in the lobby to keep them occupied!  At this performance there were tables set up with all kinds of homemade musical instruments. Kleenex box guitars, water bottle shakers, bottle cap percussion instruments, the kids could bang, strum, and shake to their hearts content!  It was kind of a mad house but so much fun!  Kids could also line up and take turns winding the wheel of a street organ!  My son thought it was the coolest thing ever and made me take his picture with it.

All too soon it was time to go find our seats for the main event! The lights dimmed, the orchestra played it's opening piece and the performance began.  It did not matter what language you spoke, this performance was all done in mime so language was not a barrier.  The players took you through each piece the orchestra played in a funny way that all the kids understood.  They played some fun pieces like "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "Turkey in the Straw".  Their focus was any kind of home made instrument that could be played by anyone.  Bottles of water, wooden spoons on flower pots, stomping with buckets on your feet.

I also found it very intriguing how the music affected my son's mood.  During up tempo pieces he was excited, dancing and bouncing in his seat.  At one point they played a lullaby and he was telling me how he was tired and wanted to go home soon!  Once the moved on to another piece of music, he was back to bouncing again.

The performance itself was exactly an hour.  Put that together with the activities in the lobby, it made for a perfect early afternoon outing.  We were home by 3:00 and enjoyed ourselves immensely!  We can't wait to see the next show in February, Green Eggs and Hamadeus.

Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

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