Active listening is often a skill that is difficult for young children (and, who are we kidding, it can be difficult for adults as well). These activities will help engage your child in active music listening as well as teach them about the emotional, musical, and sequential characteristics of music. Encourage older children to listen and complete the activities independently.
Active Listening Playlist
Use this playlist as you engage kids with some of the active listening activities in this post.
Active Listening Activities
Babies – Preschool
Our playlist is great to have on in the background as your little one plays. Its different tempos, moods, and instruments will pique their ears and expose them to a variety of different sounds.
When a new piece of music comes on, tell them how it makes you feel. For example, “Wow, this music is soft and gentle. It makes me feel calm.”
You can help even the littlest ones tap out the tempo of each piece.
Older, more verbal, children can tell you a bit about the music they hear – is it loud? Soft? Happy?
Music Maps are great advanced listening tools for kids to work on independently from elementary school and up. Depending on the age of your kid(s), they’re likely already familiar with the concept of story maps – visual representations of what happens in a story, from beginning to end. We’ve put our own musical spin on it with Music Maps. Music Maps will ask your child to focus and be attentive to what they’re hearing as they map out the progression of the music. Here’s how it works:
Press play to listen to the piece of music. Listen once through before starting the music maps activity.
Drag and drop the tiles each depicting different music events in the order that they happen in the music.
When you think you have the order correct, click “Check My Music Map” to find out.
Take Music Maps Offline
You can also print out the music maps worksheets and complete the activity with good, old-fashioned paper and scissors as well.
After listening once through a piece of music, cut out each of the cards depicting different music events.
Listen again, one or more times, as your child works to put the events in the order that they occur in the music.
Once they feel like they’ve put all the events in the correct order, they can glue or tape them to a sheet of paper and they’ll have made their very own music map!
Tap or stomp out the tempo, or pulse, of the music.
Figure out what meter the music is in – is it in 2, 3, or 4? Check out this post featuring Conductor Dan to learn about conducting in different meters and then conduct along with the music.
Choose two pieces of music to listen to. Talk about what makes them sound similar or different. You may explore things like mood, tempo, instruments used, dynamics (how loud or soft the music is), and more. Older children can go one step further and make a Venn diagram with these similarities and differences.