Intergenerational Outdoor Musical Play - The Key to Great Family Connections
Quality time: it’s a vital part of any friendship, relationship or family dynamic; it’s one of the five love languages and it’s the perfect way to briefly step back from the chaos and busyness of everyday life. And yet, sadly, it seems more and more difficult to come by quality time with loved ones as time goes on. For children, it is well known that quality time spent with parents, siblings, guardians or carers is fundamental to their learning to establish healthy relations with others; it deepens connections and enables them to feel loved, valued and special. Many of us might think that this need fades as we age, but in fact, quality time is just as crucial for adults as it is for children.
Musical engagements of all sorts are such natural ways of spending quality time with loved ones. Whether it be dancing around at a concert or dancing around the living room, rocking out in a recording studio or at the park, music ignites something in us that allows us to feel connected with each other in a totally unique sort of way. What better way, then, to spend some good old-fashioned fun and creative quality time with the whole family than by playing music all together?
The outdoor musical instruments that we manufacture here at Percussion Play mean that nobody is excluded from family jam sessions based on skill level, age or natural musical talent. Many of our instruments are pentatonically tuned, meaning that there are really ‘no wrong notes’ and any combination of notes played gel naturally together in beautiful harmonies. The majority of our other instruments are diatonically tuned, making it easy to play a multitude of simple and well-known songs with which the whole family will be familiar. Really, what this all means is that your family doesn’t have to be the next ‘von Trapps’ in order to be able to create gorgeous melodies all together. Toddlers can play along with grandparents, brothers and sisters can play with their parents, everybody gets a chance to join in and benefit from getting outside, playing some music and spending some well-needed and often neglected quality time with the family. Research shows that not only does this help children to feel loved and known by their elders, but that it actually hugely benefits the social and psychological wellness and happiness of family members of all ages. For children specifically, though, playing outdoor musical instruments with their elders can speed up the development of social skills, emotional processing, communication, self-esteem, and intelligence - due to a combination of the cognitive responses to music-making and the effects of spending time learning from/with people outside of their age group. All of these things - of course - are hugely important in the formative years of childhood and set children up far better to enter into adolescence and adulthood as balanced, happy, socially intelligent and well-rounded people.
Isn’t it amazing how something so simple, mindless and fun can have such an incredibly positive impact on the development of our children - socially, emotionally and cognitively? More than that, it can actually also be profoundly helpful for our relationships with each other - children and adults alike. The positive effects of bonding through playing music together, listening to each other, having fun, being outdoors and being creative - cannot be underestimated. It is so important that we spend time with the people we love - and what better way to do so than by being outdoors, breathing in the fresh air and making beautiful sounds together in an open, familiar and non-judgemental space. It allows us to feel and express love, joy and connection with those around us; to feel that we are a part of something bigger than just ourselves: a part of a family ensemble!