We all know the instant mood boost we get when a favourite tune comes on, we turn it up and start singing it out loud.
And, when we get a chance to bring this mood boost to our whole family, it’s an awesome chance for connection. Endless amounts of studies show us how wired we are to respond to music and how much of a positive impact music can have on us. As mentioned on Berkeley's Greater Good blog “Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection.” How Music Bonds Us Together, Jill Suttie
My family finds lots of joy through music in our day to day and I want to share some ideas with you that help us create closeness and connection.
First up, 1. Family Dance Parties. This tradition started when my two oldest boys were one and three. I would start dinner and then while we waited for it to cook — and as we waited for Dad to come home from work — we would shake off our anticipation by tossing on a playlist and dancing around the kitchen together. The time would pass so quickly, the three of us forgetting about our hunger and the wait for Dad to arrive. The tradition has stuck and while we don’t always have everyone dancing, for the most part, when we get the music going, excitement starts and we get into a good groove while dinner cooks. And, because we want a little calm and focus at the dinner table (what's calm and focus at the dinner table? 🤪) here's an idea I picked up from Dr. Becky’s Good Inside – mellow out before dinner with a little meditation. Stretch out together on the floor or do a little breathing excercise. It makes for the perfect wind down after a very fun dance party. And now you've connected through music, created closeness with your shared experience and you're ready to keep the connection and closeness going as you share your meal together.
2. Sing Talk: Trust me when I say you do not need any musical talent to be singing through your day with your kids. I make up songs about what we are doing constantly and loads of time I’m off-key and wouldn’t put what I have written on a record. 😉 I’ll pull this out when I am getting a smile out of my eight and six year-olds and it’s great for toddlers and babies to hear music when they are doing daily activities — their ears perk right up and they tend to pay more attention. Also, any time something is put into a sing-song form, it instantly diffuses any stress I might be feeling! So, Sing Talk is good for parents and kids. 😊 It doesn’t matter that you don’t want your banana, let’s stop throwing pieces of it at the friiiiidge! Try singing that — changes everything! 😀
3. Family Concert: My kids all know how to turn on the demo songs on my keyboard and it takes just one beat before they all rush into the room to start running around and going wild. I keep a basket of percussion instruments beside my keyboard so that they can all grab something and start jamming. Making rhythms and songs together and playing off of each other is such a fun bonding experience. And, whenever I am playing you can bet the kids are in the room adding their own sparkle to my songs. I highly recommend having a basket of percussion instruments around and maybe a little djembe, and if you’d like to mimic the songs from the keyboard to have something to guide your chaotic group playing session, just throw on some upbeat instrumental songs from a record, CD or wherever you stream music. Yes, it’s loud. But, go for it when you can. Lose yourself in it and I promise you will all have so much fun together. (Until someone hits someone else with a drumstick, but, you know, until then. 😏)
Happy music making and connecting through music! 🎶