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Top 5 Resources for Teaching Your Toddler to Play Music

Most piano teachers won't take students until they are at least 6 or 7 years old, or at least until they can read and sit still for 30 minutes. And so parents are left with the options of either (1) waiting until that age to have their child formally learn music or (2) enrolling their child in music programs like Music Together, Gymboree,, Kindermusik, or Musikgarten where they sing songs, toss around some scarves, dance around, and hit some drums and sticks while a teacher plays the pitched instruments.

Though those programs are valuable and great, my husband and I -- being the musical theater musicians we are -- believed there could be something better.

And that's when we discovered Progidies Music which combines early childhood education with music education with PITCHED instruments.

We bought the curriculum when I was pregnant, bought our first set of colorful deskbells, and fell in love. The videos are accessible via iPhone, iPad, and on a streaming app direct on our TV. Our son has been listening to the lessons since he was in utero, since his early days, and now he is 2 years old and playing the deskbells.

We loved the curriculum so much that we decided to share it with our musician friends and their kids, and now we teach classes to families across the Bay Area. We are excited for families to discover that not only are their tiny humans capable of learning an instrument at age 2-4, but that this is the prime age to develop their rapidly-developing aural skills (hearing).

If we can teach our kids at this age the names of letters and colors (training their eyes to see shapes and colors), then we can certainly teach our kids the names and sounds of notes!

Here are the top 5 resources I've found helpful:

(1) Prodigies Music Subscription ($120/year)

For as low as $9.99/month, you can have access to over 400 colorful music lessons. It can be a little intimidating to navigate the menu, but my favorite playlist for my 2-year-old is the Preschool Prodigies 45 minute long-play compilation :)

As a studio, we have purchased a Prodigies Academy license so we can give families access to the Prodigies videos if you become a student of ours (included as part of your tuition)!

(2) Prodigies Deskbells and/or Resonator Bells (aka Xylophone) ($35-100)

While your child can follow along with the Prodigies curriculum with a piano or their own xylophone (or an Amazon set of deskbells), getting the Prodigies-specific bells/xylophone is ideal as the color scheme matches.

The prices have been increasing steadily on the Prodigies website. But I've found cheaper ones on Rhythm Band and Amazon. PALAKA Music and Arts Studio also has purchased them in bulk, so you can buy them directly from us!

(3) Boomwhackers ($30)

If your child has tons of energy, boomwhackers are a great way to get them to expend the energy and play music! They are also very affordable and can be found with the same color scheme as the Prodigies curriculum on various websites:

(4) Sticky Tabs for your Piano / Keyboard (<$10)

If you already have a piano, an easy adaptation (and cheap!) is to attach colorful sticky tabs to the keys: C = red, D = orange, E = yellow, F = green, G = blue/teal, A = purple, B = pink, C = red

There are a couple different sets on Amazon but these are two I've used:

The color matching isn't perfect but it is similar enough for kids to catch on.

(4) Preschool Piano Materials: Early Introduction

If your child is ready to start playing the piano, here are some curricula I've found geared specifically for <5. I'm not crazy about any of them in particular, and I still draw from various curricula when teaching our group classes.

  • Comes in 4 levels and goes at a snail's pace to introduce individual notes

  • Uses a narrative format with stories to introduce the concepts of music

  • Uses stuffed animals, coloring sheets, and has supplementary materials for teachers and students

  • The animals are Beethoven Bear and Mozart Mouse so a tendency toward classical piano are definitely emphasized

  • Books are less than $10 each (and used versions are plentiful on eBay at even cheaper prices)

  • I love the colors and the activities in these books

  • My understanding is that they are game-based for the younger ages and slowly introduce music concepts

  • They have series for Preschoolers (ages 3-5), Primer (5-9), Elementary level and beyond

  • The books are pricier (~$14 each) than Music for Little Mozarts but the higher quality graphics, paper, and colors definitely are worth it (not too many used versions around though)

  • I recently discovered this series and ordered a handful of the books.

  • I like the narrative format of the books and the colorful graphics

  • Haven't used them yet but I'm looking forward to!

  • The Piano Adventures series is all the rage with the piano teachers nowadays and this series (FIRST Piano Adventures) is great for younger kids before they start with the Piano Adventures Primer level

  • They have A, B, & C levels with several books per level (lesson book, writing book) which I'm not crazy about, but it does transition nicely to the higher levels of Piano Adventures

(5) Preschool Piano Resources for Teachers

Two books that I've found helpful in developing my lesson plans are these two, which have great ideas for activities that I've adapted and built upon:

We believe that children under the age of 5 have such potential for learning pitch and music, and we shouldn't waste those years waiting for piano lessons or just having them dance and clap their hands! If you're interested in finding out more about our classes (in-person and online), check out our Services page.

What other resources have you used or found that you love? Comment below!

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