Monday, January 11, 2010

Fun and Useful Music Resources

Music education and literacy go together so well. An education in music gives kids many of the skills they need to read, write and communicate successfully. They are trained to observe, to listen, to recognize and repeat patterns, to respond to rhythm and melody, as well as the obvious skills like reading and remembering song lyrics. Reading song lyrics is actually a great way to extend kids' vocabulary and sight word recognition, particularly if they already know the song. Online music can provide us with opportunities to create and compose, as some of the web spaces below will show you.

I also love that music gets kids moving. With toddler obesity on the rise, I think we need to take advantage of the natural movement opportunities available when we listen, move and play with music.

We are the Dinosaurs - Laurie Berkner

Here's a cute song with lots of opportunities for movement and fun for your toddlers.

Simeon's Music Maker

This is part of the Julie Andrews Collection site.
Simeon's Music Maker is an amazing little bit of software that enables kids to compose music.

Classics for Kids

There's a wealth of education about music available
at this site. But I think one of the games could use some work. In Be a Rockin' Rhythm Master, kids must repeat rhythms they hear by using their keyboard's space bar. Maybe it was my browser, but I found my own pattern didn't sound after the first note. Note Names, Compose Your Own Music and Composer Time machine worked fine. There's also a nice guide to the instruments of the orchestra. You can click on a section, read its function in an orchestra, then click to listen to it play.


Kneebouncers is lots of fun for under 5's. Bright, simple and colourful characters bounce, pop and jiggle. There's no need to use the mouse because kids can just press any key to activate lots of cute activities. The Book Chook's favourite is Music Maker. If only I'd had those piano lessons I wanted as a child!

Free Kids Music

This site is a great place to get a taste of music suitable for children. Musicians make tracks available so we can download and listen on mp3 players, CD etc. The music is not to be published anywhere else by us, naturally, as the musicians are hoping we will enjoy the track and want to buy the album. Find an A-Z of traditional songs or link to contemporary songs by artist alphabetically via the right side menu on the main page. I quite like both free Melodies About Me tracks under M. Why not download some of these for your kids to listen to during a long car journey, or use them as the background to your family fitness routine?

Special Needs in Music Web Site

At this site, you'll find lots of goodies for all abilities of student. Kaila Rochelle provides folk song arrangements for the classroom, and it's a simple matter to click and hear an mp3 of a song. I particularly like this Chinese Spring Song.

I've mentioned
Poisson Rouge and Mama Lisa's World before, but they are both excellent sites that deserve your visit.

Poisson Rouge

Although not entirely devoted to music,
Poisson Rouge has many activities related to it. Younger kids will enjoy just clicking or scrolling over pictures on the main page to see what activities arise. There are heaps of things to activate and interact with. You can play guitar chords, sing along with the choir, get four little animations singing Frère Jacques as a round, compose a song on the piano and see the score written above. There's also an English school where kids can see and hear common words in English, and similarly one in French.

Mama Lisa's World

Mama Lisa's World is home to the internet's largest collection of children's songs and nursery rhymes from around the world. You'll find the lyrics to kids' songs, in English and other languages, plus some songs have mp3s and Midi music so you can learn the tune. If you're looking for the words to a folk song you once heard, or a rhyme you remember from your childhood, this is the place. It's also a great source for parents who want to teach their children about world music and culture. AND, you can find Mother Goose rhymes in French and English - very handy for young language learners.

A Storytelling of Crows

I mentioned Farida Dowler's blogs in
my addendum post to the Literacy in the Playground series. A Storytelling of Crows doesn't yet have a lot of material, but it is all worth listening to. One I love is the fire fairy song, a song from Farida's daughter's Waldorf school. It helps that Farida has a lovely voice!

Fisher Price Online Music Games

Music Mixer, kids can listen to songs they know played by an ensemble of animals, and stop any instrument to hear how the song sounds without its contribution. The different styles are folk, jazz, rock and classical. Check out Itsy Bitsy Spider played by an animal rock band. Nice!

British Council Learn English Kids Songs

Although this web site is for kids who are learning English as a second language, the great thing about these cute songs is that they have the words underneath to read while you listen and sing along. Try this one about Pirates. Parents (from anywhere in the world I believe) can also register to access downloads like sheet music, lyrics and mp3s.

Fast becoming a Book Chook favourite:

Editor of Alphabet Soup magazine, Rebecca Newman put me onto a wonderful mass for peace by Karl Jenkins called The Armed Man. It is dedicated to the victims of the Kossovo tragedy. Listen to and watch the start on Youtube, with the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera and four choirs. Wonderful! Exposing kids to "classical" music early is something I really believe in.

Play the Piano

An interactive video on Youtube that allows you to play the keyboard yourself. Give it a chance to load before you try tapping the keys with your cursor. How amazing is this!

Know of Any Others?

I hope you enjoy introducing your kids to these sites. Please let us know in comments or via email if you have any other favourites for children's music.

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