Resources for Children
Hello parents of young musicians,
So your child is going over to the piano, striking keys randomly, and you're wondering how you can get that to crystallize into prodigious musicianship? I can't see any downside to them exploring without knowing the names of anything. I think if they end up playing melodies, it's going to be because they're in the child's ear from either singing or being sung to, right? Like all instrumental playing is really just an abstraction of vocal music?
A little challenge for you the musical parent could be to sing nursery rhymes to them, and then once in a while you go over and sing and play at the same time with one finger. Still later, you just play a tune without singing it, and they will start to make the connection.
(Incidentally, there's some developmental reason that children sing a descending minor third as their first interval, and this cuts across cultures. You start to notice it in a lot of nursery rhymes, like "this old man, he played one, he played knick knack on his thumb." You notice that the melody starts with g e g, a falling minor third.)
For more resources on music for this age group, many musician friends and non-musician friends take their kids to a franchise called Music Together LLC. I'd poke around on some of their Facebook pages and see what parents are doing with their kids. To my mind it's all about movement and singing because, (as the Greeks said and Dalcroze reiterated) the body becomes the child's true first instrument.
There's a Facebook page called Music and Movement Newton that has some really active parents and great ideas.
Another simple thing you could do in the home is play the piano with one hand and say to the child, "How would you move to this music?" And see how they move. Then change the music in some way, and see if they react, really focusing on noticing how they respond and change, and not trying at all to get them to do anything " right ".
From there, once you have them listening, the sky is the limit in terms of games you can play: stop when the music stops... Pat your head when you hear the music (play high) and pat your legs when you hear the music change (play similar music but low). In general that's how I design a lesson to teach high and low, only employing those terms weeks later. Always "when you hear the music change..." Same for soft-loud, fast-slow, etc.
You might try sitting next to the child at the keyboard and try imitating them, like being their echo, and wait to see if they respond to realizing that they can control what you do by changing what they do. Then see if you can switch roles without explaining as much and get them to echo you. In this way you get them to explore variety and difference without really analyzing it or anything. After all, you simply want to share the lesson that music is intuitively interactive like a conversation or a dance!
Please share your ideas below and happy musicking!