Wondering where to start with teaching music to Preschoolers or Pre-K? In this blog post, I'll share strategies to make your preschool music lessons fun and engaging, so that students are excited about music, AND they are busy singing, dancing, and moving!
#1: Keep activities short
One of the key things to remember when teaching music to preschoolers is to keep the activities short. I follow the rule about age and number of minutes: whatever age the children are, the activities shouldn't be longer than that number. So for example, if preschoolers are four years old, then try to not have the activities be longer than four minutes.
Young children have short attention spans and may quickly lose interest if an activity drags on for too long. By keeping activities short and sweet, you can ensure that your students stay engaged and focused throughout the lesson.
If your lessons are twenty-five minutes long, you might have at least 6 different activities during this time, to keep students moving and engaged!
#2: Use a Routine
Preschoolers thrive on routine and structure, so incorporating a predictable routine into your music lessons is essential. Having a set structure not only helps the children feel secure and comfortable, but it also allows them to anticipate what comes next, which can heighten their engagement and participation.
Start each music lesson with a familiar opening routine, such as a welcome song or a hello song. This signals to the children that the lesson is about to begin and helps transition their focus to the musical activities ahead. Following the opening routine, move on to the main activities of the lesson, such as singing, dancing, or playing instruments. Finally, end the lesson with a closing routine, such as a goodbye song, a quiet listening activity, or a picture book (more on that in a minute!)
By establishing a consistent routine, you create a sense of structure and familiarity that can enhance the learning experience. The children will know what to expect, and this can help them feel more at ease and engaged in the music-making process.
#3: Cross-Curricular Connections
Preschool music lessons provide a fantastic opportunity to make cross-curricular connections. By integrating music with other subjects, such as language arts, math, or social-emotional learning, you can create a more holistic and enriching learning experience for your students.
Language arts skills can be touched upon by having students listen to songs and follow the directions. Math skills can be reinforced through rhythmic activities and counting songs. Social-emotional learning, or SEL, can be touched upon by having students talk about how a song or piece of music makes them feel, or by teaching them to regulate themselves and only pick up instruments when it is their turn to play! Motor development can be taught through movement songs and activities, in which students have to move in different ways, either to the music or to the beat.
The song “I am walking,” that I learned from my friend Katie Minneci (who has often been on my podcast), is great for motor development and language arts, as students have to listen to the directions in the song and move appropriately.
By making these cross-curricular connections, you not only enhance the children's understanding of music but also foster their overall cognitive development. This multidisciplinary approach makes the lessons more engaging and meaningful, and the children will be excited to explore music in connection with other subjects.
#4: Experiential Learning
Preschoolers learn best through hands-on, experiential learning. They love to explore and discover the world around them, and music is no exception. By providing opportunities for them to actively engage with music, you can make your lessons more enjoyable and effective.
Incorporate plenty of movement-based activities to allow the children to physically experience the music. At this point, we are not worrying about labeling the musical concepts (such as fast and slow, or steady beat)–we are simply having students experience the music.
Another effective way to engage preschoolers in experiential learning is through guided listening activities. Play a variety of musical styles and genres, and encourage the children to listen carefully and describe what they hear. You can ask questions like “Does this music sound happy or sad?” or “How does this music make you feel?” This helps develop their listening skills and fosters their emotional connection to music. It also gives students a chance to express themselves!
Creating opportunities for the children to make music themselves is also crucial. Provide them with simple instruments like drums, xylophones, or maracas, and let them explore and experiment with the sounds. Encourage them to create their own music, and celebrate their creativity and musical expression.
By engaging preschoolers in experiential learning, you tap into their natural curiosity and enthusiasm, making the music lessons come alive. They become active participants in the learning process, and their love for music will continue to grow.
#5: Use picture books
Picture books are a valuable resource for teaching music to preschoolers. They not only capture the children's imagination but also provide a visual and narrative context for exploring musical concepts.
Choose picture books that feature music-related themes, characters, or elements. Read the story aloud, and as you go along, pause to discuss the musical elements in the book. Ask questions like “What instruments do you hear?” or “How does the music make the characters feel?” This helps the children make connections between the story and the music and deepens their understanding of musical concepts. This is also a great cross-curricular connection!
Here are three picture books that would work well for Preschool. (Note: These are affiliate links)
Picture books offer a wonderful way to integrate literacy skills with music, making the lessons more engaging and multi-dimensional. The combination of storytelling and music sparks the children's imagination and creates a memorable learning experience.
Teaching music to preschoolers can be a joyful and rewarding experience. By implementing strategies like keeping activities short, establishing routines, making cross-curricular connections, engaging in experiential learning, and incorporating picture books, you can create fun and engaging preschool music lessons.
Looking for ready-to-go preschool music lessons for the music classroom? Check these out: