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Tips to develop your child's art savvy

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By Nancy Roucher, Consulting Educator

Performing arts

Encourage your young performer.

Have a positive attitude about your child's ability. Note progress in learning notes, moving rhythmically, and speaking expressively. Give your child helpful feedback such as suggestions to make her voice louder so it can be heard by all and being aware of her posture when she is singing.

What about instruments?

The recorder is a very common first instrument and by third grade many students in school music programs have them. Some students may be lucky enough to have Suzuki violin training at a young age; in some schools strings, band and orchestra instruments are introduced at fourth or fifth grade. Experts recommend that formal lessons do not start until age 8.

Have music in your home.

Have a variety of music to play that is accessible to your child and properly stored. Have a drum, tambourine, and other rhythm instruments available. Kids can also make instruments to play along with music, create their own "soundscapes" or "orchestrate" a story. Go to Making Friends for a list of musical instruments to make.

Create a place for dance and drama.

For dance, have a clear space for your child to move in. For drama, dress-ups inspire playmaking and dialogue. But, the basic ingredient your child needs is imagination. What does she want to express? Is it a feeling, mood or a particular story? That's what you should encourage. Pose the "what if..." questions to stimulate creative thinking!

Try books, videos, and DVDs about music.

Beethoven Lives Upstairs, a DVD movie, has more than two dozen musical excerpts. Or try Charlie Parker Played Bebop by Chris Raschka; Walt Disney's Fantasia; films of Broadway shows like Annie; and E.T., a wonderful movie to discuss for character and plot.

Nancy Roucher is an arts education consultant from Sarasota, Florida. For 12 years she served as co-director of the Florida Institute for Art Education, a statewide project to help individual school districts implement comprehensive arts education. She consults with schools, museums and arts councils, and has developed a variety of curricular and program materials for arts education.

Comments from readers

"All these tips are very helpful. I have two kids, 5 and 3 yrs old and they love painting. Certainly I will try these tips with them. Than you!"