“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” – Psalm 133:1
The word of the week in our development series is “cooperation.” I hope you will look under the character development tab to find more activities to help develop this quality in your children. Today we looked at the idea of cooperation through music. Music is such an important part of your child’s development that I wrote a post about the importance of getting your children in music lessons. However, if you’re not in a place logistically, financially or geographically where you can make that happen, it doesn’t mean you can’t work on things at home. Simply tapping a basic rhythm on your child’s back while listening to music helps. Buying or making simple instruments for play and experimentation can grow your child’s learning. Listening to music while you talk about the emotions it invokes or the pictures they see in their head can be powerful. Singing with them can teach valuable lessons. Don’t feel trapped by your circumstance. With a little effort and creativity, music can become a part of your child’s life and learning. I decided music would aid well as we teach the the word “cooperation.” Listening to a choir, band or orchestra, you can hear instruments at times playing in unison and cooperating by playing the same notes. At other times, you hear instruments playing completely different things and yet they are still cooperating to make an amazing piece of music. It takes the musicians working together to create the masterpieces. So it goes in life. There will be times where cooperating means we are all doing the exact same thing to accomplish a task. Other times, we might still be working together to finish a goal, but we all have different roles in bringing it together. We all have different gifts, talents and thoughts to bring to the table. Both are ways to cooperate. How did I drive this idea home with my own kids?
The first exercise was for us to play a rhythm in unison. My husband is a drummer, so we have some great percussion instruments. Your activity may not look like this. Perhaps you will make a homemade tambourine like the one we made last year. Maybe you have shakers, bells or need to use your voices and clap your hands. Whatever your methods, the first activity involves cooperating by doing the exact same thing. I started clapping in rhythm. I had each one of them try to do their instrument on beat with me. At times I needed to help them learn to get on the beat. Eventually, we were all able to cooperate and do it in unison.
The next step was to work as a team to take turns in rhythm. It would go Kenzie, Corban, Abby, me. We would repeat this on rhythm over and over again until we could get it down. I would say their names out loud over and over as we went around the group. This took some practice too. Eventually we were able to take turns on the beat.
The next step was an act of listening. I turned on some classical music, they made themselves a little area to lay down, and I encouraged them to lay down, clothes their eyes and listen to how the musicians cooperate to make the sounds. I encouraged them to listen for when the instruments were playing the same parts in unison and when they were playing different parts that complimented each other.
The final element to this lesson was letting kids work individually to try and play along with the musicians on the radio. They would try to listen to the rhythm and figure out how their own talents, sounds and rhythms could cooperate with the orchestra.