So...it's the school holidays, you've done some day trips, you've exhausted the play parks, you've all probably eaten too much ice cream and now your kid(s) is/are saying "I'm bored!"
Here are a few musical ideas to keep the tears of boredom away and reconnect with each other by communicating in a slightly different way...
1. Making Musical Instruments out of:
a) Household Junk
Anyone that knows me, knows I am obsessed with making music out of whatever random objects I can find. I use these objects in my live shows, whether I'm playing them myself or getting the audience to play them with me.
The great thing about playing junk is that it really doesn't matter if you know how to play music or not. EVERYONE can make music together with a few basic household objects.
I love the childlike happiness that people of all ages have at my gigs as they create a Latin beat with a cheese grater and whisk, or totally lose their inhibitions as they rock a Wok solo.
The picture above is of my son's 'Drum Kit', a prized possession of his which he got as a homemade Christmas present this year. A couple of cardboard boxes, a paint pot, a battered old tambourine and some empty sweet tubs work perfectly well as a starter kit and as an incentive to practice he now earns piece's of a real kit every time he learns a new beat to add to it.
Yes, I know I sound likeI've really lost it now, but you actually can make fantastic instruments out of vegetables.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to see the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra live. These guys tour all over the place, stopping off at the local market in the area they're playing in, creating instruments from whatever veg they find there and then playing the entire concert on vegetables, including a chef who keeps time whilst chopping as he makes a soup that everyone eats afterwards. It really is the most wonderful, crazy spectacle, encompassing all genres and world music's along the way.
Here's some fun we had on a Spring walk last year.
2. Write a Song Together
Grab 3 empty bags.
In the 1st bag, put some characters from your kids toys, it could be different animals, lego characters, fairies etc.
In the 2nd bag, find some toys which are modes of transport, a boat, a train, a car, a rocket etc.
In the 3rd bag, find some random toy objects, maybe a piece of lego fire, a plastic ice cream, a dolls house plate, a wooden tree, the more random the better.
Ask your kid(s) to pull out something from the 1st bag, lucky dip style. Grab a big piece of paper and pen and brainstorm words, ideas, rhymes to do with that character.
Do the same with the other two bags and then start to thread together a story using the character to pull the different elements together. If you can stick to 4 lines in every verse and a catchy phrase that you can repeat for a chorus, then before you know it, you'll have some some great lyrics. (Story cubes are also great for this too)
Then you can either use some of your homemade instruments to create a beat to sing or rap over, or choose one of your child's favourite songs, grab a karaoke version on youtube and fit and adapt your lyrics to go with the melody they already know.
To give you some inspiration, here's a song that Frank Moon and I wrote with some reception/year 1 children from Icklesham Primary School in a workshop we did recently.
Out of our 3 bags, they pulled a troll, a spaceship and an ice cream. We had 1 hour to create a song together.
3. Create Your Own Film Soundtrack
Collect together some kitchen implements, dim the lights in the front room, throw on a film that you all know well (or choose an old silent movie), turn the sound down and have a go at creating your own family movie soundtrack. Its really fun and can be even more hilarious if anyone wants to do a voice over as well.
Popcorn is a necessity!
4. Learn a Song/Piece of Music Together
There are SO many youtube tutorials now on how to learn various different songs/music pieces. Look one up and see if you can all learn together. If you're competitive in the family, see who can do the best version and compete at the end of the week to win a prize. It's great for kids to be able to see their parents make mistakes and then work hard to get better at something, it can inspire them to do the same. Ukuleles are a good instrument to start with as they're cheap and easy to play.
5. See Some Music Together
There's nothing like going to see some live music, whether its street musicians, a concert in a theatre or a live gig. Provoke discussions about what instruments were used, how it made them feel, what was their favourite bit? This also inspires kids to learn instruments themselves, write songs, form bands and practice more.
The wonderful thing about Music is that it allows us to communicate with each other in a different way, outside the norms of nagging our kids to put their shoes on or finish their dinner.
When we start to share experiences with each other like this, something magical happens...we learn to express ourselves to each other without the clumsiness of words and speak to each other directly with our feelings through the language of music.
Bev Lee Harling is a Songwriter, Performer and Educator.
She loves nothing more than creating music from found objects and kitchen equipment and encouraging others to do the same.