I've always encouraged my children and grandchildren to be active listeners, trying to get them to identify the different sounds. This can happen in the city, the suburbs or the country. In the city there are motorized vehicles that have unique sounds. A motorcycle can be distinguished from a car before it comes in sight. There are sirens and people playing music in their cars. Even in the city you can hear lots of bird songs and hear the wind blowing through the trees. Ask your children, "What do you hear?" "How many different sounds do you hear?" Write them down. How many can YOU identify?
In addition to listening to the sounds around us, we can create our own music from things found around the house and yard. I taught at Helderberg Workshop one summer doing a session that focused on making music. We collected acorn tops, poked holes in the center and strung them on wire across a Y-shaped stick. When we shook them back and forth they became percussion instruments. We collected straight sticks, removed the bark and used sharp rocks to gouge horizontal lines in them to make our own rhythm sticks. We hiked in the woods listening to the sounds and wrote songs about what we heard and saw. In schools, I often have kids make their own kazoos out of toilet paper rolls, a rubber band and some waxed paper.
* Poke a small hole in the side of the toilet paper roll, about halfway down. * Decorate it however you'd like.
* Cut a square of waxed paper big enough to cover the top of the roll with enough to fold over generously.
* Secure the waxed paper on the top of the roll with the rubber band, making sure that it doesn't cover the hole in the side.
* Now, hum into the open side of the roll. Remember, don't blow. You have to hum.
I like to remind people about the music in the natural world, but it's important to go out and hear live music this summer, too. There are so many opportunities for this. It seems as though every town has their own little music series. You can find free music in the parks, libraries, town squares, gazebos, just about everywhere. Go listen to a wide variety of music. Your children may not necessarily love the music you love. They need to be given lots of choices. I knew a boy who discovered classical music and would sing or hum the themes to this complex, instrumental music, and he couldn't get enough of it. Who knows what your child will like. And in the summer, it doesn't need to break the bank. We are very rich in our area. Go out and enjoy the richness.