Let the Kids Play: How to Strategically Place Music Instruments in Your Home
In my house it seems like there are books everywhere and as a result, my kids will pick up a book and start reading. This happens all over the house, they read on their bedroom floors, on the stairs, in the kitchen, out on the deck, and anywhere else you can think of. Why? Well, because we have books throughout our house and my wife purposely places child appropriate books at eye level of each kid.
If the book analogy doesn’t work, think about the cereal aisle in the grocery store. You look at all the good nutritious cereals that are at your eye level. Then, your little one looks up at you with those precious eyes holding a sugar filled box of Lucky Charms. Why? That’s easy, because it was placed right at their eye level.
Now, what if we did the same thing with musical instruments? Imagine if musical instruments were placed around your house strategically, like my wife’s books or the cereal aisle. Do you think our kids would pick them up? I know my kids do because I have purposefully placed them so my kids can play them at anytime they want.
Just like placing a product in a store, musical instruments can be positioned through out the home strategically, which will encourage your kids to pick them up and play. Here are three things to consider for placing instruments in a way that your kids will want to pick them up and jam.
Make it Obvious
The reason we notice stop signs is that they are put directly in our path and they are bright red. Now, I’m not saying you have to go out and buy big red instruments, but placing instruments in areas that your kids use all the time will encourage them to use them more often. Some great places include the living room, bedroom, and playroom. Honestly, just think about where your kids go and hang out.
Likewise, think about where in a room instruments will standout. For example, my daughter uses her dollhouse all the time; so, her ukulele lives next to it. As a result, she picks up and plays it. If you can, avoid corners, instead put them front and center in the room.
Make it Reachable
Have you ever watched your kid try to brush their teeth when there is no step-stool? They will try, but eventually they give up and go to bed with sugar coated teeth. Of course, the solution is to just make sure they have a step-stool all set up.
Likewise, it is best to think about your kid’s height when placing instruments in your home. If you hang a guitar on the wall, make sure they can pull it off. If you have a keyboard set up, make sure its low enough for them to play. If you have a drum set, make sure the throne (drum seat) is low enough to reach the pedals.
Basically, your kids should be able to sit down or grab the instrument and play without any obstacles.
Make it Comfortable
Okay, I have two points on this one. First, the location of the instrument should be in a comfortable place. Second, you should be comfortable with them playing the instrument, even if you’re not there.
The first point is simple. If the location is comfy; that is, a place that your kid wants to sit around and make some music; they’ll be more likely to play for a longer period of time. Simply placing a beanbag, a few pillows, or a chair close by will be encouraging.
The second point is a bit more of a challenge, as we sometimes spend a lot of money on instruments or we have been conditioned that instruments are like glass and should be painstakingly cared for. Well, you need to get over that. If you put it in your kid’s path, expect them to play it and ding it up. If you have a nice instrument that you want to preserve, I suggest having a second instrument available.
For example, in my house we have two classical guitars. One sits in my office wall and if the kids want to play it, I bring it down and usually play with them. But, we also have a second guitar that is close to the ground, can be played at anytime, and we even take it camping. This guitar is played a lot more and takes a beating, but that’s the point.
Look around your house and think about the places your kids go; then, put some instruments in their path. I suggest starting out like it’s an experiment. So, you switch up some of the locations until you find what works.
Remember to make it obvious, reachable, and comfortable. Most importantly, if you see your kids making music (especially if it was one of the instruments you strategically placed in your home) take the time to join in on the fun.
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John Owens, Ph.D. is the author of Music at Home: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Musically Insightful Kids. Check out his upcoming books, articles, and courses at johnowensmusic.com.