Looking for a fun, easy way to play and engage with your kids, no matter their age? Make music together! Drumming and rhythmic play are great ways to help your child develop their creativity, musicality, and focus. Kids are usually really easy to engage in drumming, since they don't have any of those pesky hangups us adults have, like "I'm not musical," "I have no rhythm," or any other silly thing we tell ourselves. Kids just go for it! Play along with your kids, and allow yourself to follow their lead and be silly. There is no "wrong" way to play a drum; as long as you're smiling and having a good time, then you're playing it right!
How Early Can I Start Drumming with My Kids?
You can start engaging in rhythmic play with your kids when they're just an infant! Just remember with very tiny babies: go slow, be soft, and keep stimulation low. When they are in the quiet-alert state, you might engage rhythmically with them for a couple of minutes at the most. Follow their cues; if they turn away, stop looking at you, or cry, take a break.
Some early rhythmic games to play with your baby are:
- Softly tap the rhythm of their name or other phrases on their body. For instance, tap “I love you, _____ (their name)” on their hands as they lay in front of you, or on their back as you hold them.
- Mimic their rhythmic coos and other sounds. If they kick their legs in a specific pattern, mimic that by clapping, tapping, or saying “kick, kick, kick!”
- Sing to your baby. Make up songs on the spot about whatever you’re doing, like “we’re changing your diaper, your diaper, your diaper, we’re changing your diaper, here we GO!”
Here is a video I made to give you some ideas of fun, easy rhythmic games you can play with your child.
Once your baby is a few months old and can hold something, you can start giving them age-appropriate rhythmic toys to play with. Once your baby is a little older and can sit up on their own, you can start introducing them to larger drums. As your child continues to grow, you can let them play with any drum they want! Supervise your child if they are using mallets or any small pieces, such as jingle bells or egg shakers, and are still in the “put everything in my mouth” phase. The mallet stick could injure them if they put it in their mouth, and small pieces are a choking hazard. Keep reading to find out some of my favorite rhythm instruments for children.
What Drums Should I Buy?
Here are some of my favorite drums and percussion instruments for kids. I suggest starting with at least one drum, a few maracas/shakers, a tambourine, and at least one funny sounding instrument (like the quack stick, clatterpillar, or frog).
Percussion for ages 0-3
Percussion for toddlers and older kids
Fun and silly instruments
Where Can I Take My Kids to Drum?
If you are in the Salt Lake City area, there is a free drum circle at Liberty Park every Sunday afternoon in the summer. I recommend taking your kids to community drum circles so they can partake in the cultural experience. You’ll always see some fun and interesting characters at a drum circle! As with any large event, supervise your kids at all times. I also recommend using ear protection for your children. These headphones are great for protecting your child’s ears at any loud event.
If you are not in the SLC area, do some Googling to find your nearest free community drum circle. If you can’t find much, you can also ask around at your local new age-y bookstore, or just ask the kid with dreadlocks who works at your local Whole Foods. ;)