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Exploring Musical Play: Enhancing Your Child's Learning Through Playfulness and Music

Mar 08, 2023
A photo of a boy playing with rhythm sticks and the words

We talk a lot about musical play here at Clap for Classics! But what exactly is musical play, and why is it so important? 


Musical play is the cornerstone of our educational philosophy, and we are so excited to expand on this topic. You do not need a musical background to introduce music and musical concepts into your child’s life in a meaningful way. Kiddos can experience music in a new and engaging way through their everyday play. 


What is Musical Play?


We’ll be sure to give examples, but let’s start by thinking of musical play in two ways: 

  1. Play that is enhanced by music
  2. Musical experiences that include playfulness 


How Music Enhances Play


When we include music during playtime with our children, the music can enhance their play. It can be so much more fun to play when there is a musical component attached. Including music in play can enhance how we move our bodies, how we respond to emotions, how we cultivate our imagination. For example:

  • Classic games like “Ring Around the Rosie”, and “London Bridge is Falling Down” are more fun and memorable because of the playful tunes that accompany the actions of the game.



  • A seek and find game can be made even more fun by playing a certain piece of music during the “seeking”. Around the holidays, we love to turn on the Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker, turn the lights down and go looking for candy canes with flashlights. It simply wouldn’t be the same without the music!


  • A call-and-response song such as “John the Rabbit” actively engages a child in listening, language skills, focus and attention.  


How Play Enhances Children's Musical Experience


Alternatively, play can enhance a child’s musical experience. Early childhood music experiences should never feel boring, academic, or strict. They should be playful, allowing children to feel the joy of music in as many modalities as possible. The connection that a child makes to the music will be deeper and much more meaningful when accompanied by play.



For example:

  • Adding movement to any song gives it an element of play – think about “Wheels on the Bus”, “If You’re Happy And You Know It”, and the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. These classics will get even the youngest musicians (babies and toddlers) fully involved, their brains working like crazy, but asking for more because they are having so much fun.


  • When listening to music, you can find playful ways to feel the beat – marching around the room, clapping hands, drumming, tapping various body parts, or dancing.


  • In our Musical Spin Around the Globe course (found inside our All Access Membership), the children pretend to make gazpacho during a “trip” to Italy while listening to a famous piece of classical music: Les Toreadors from Bizet’s “Carmen”


  • Freeze dance is one of our favorites – it may seem like an exercise in impulse control (and it is) but it’s more than that: kids get to hear to a great piece of music (we love to play this with “Flight of the Bumblebee” found here on our podcast) but instead of just having it on in the background, they are listening ever so intently, so that they can be ready to freeze when the music stops. 


  • In our courses, we teach musical concepts using playful puppets – “Forte” the lion and “Piano” the cat, “Staccato” the chicken and “Legato” the swan, to name a few. Kids love to see their (often silly) friends on the screen, and it really makes the musical concepts come alive to them.


The Benefits of Musical Play


Musical play is an immersive experience for not only the child, but their grown-ups as well. Have you ever heard a song or musical composition that takes you back to a specific time or event in your life? The music connects you to the memory. This is a form of classical conditioning. When we connect music to playtime, particularly when a grown-up is engaged in the play, bonding occurs between the caretaker and child, and special memories are made. Who knew that bonding was as easy as stomping to the beat with your child?!


As we mentioned earlier, emotional regulation, active listening, focus and attention are all components of musical play. Musical games can include practice with turn-taking and following instructions. At Clap for Classics we include both fine and gross motor skills (big and small movements) in nearly all of our musical activities.


Your child’s motor skills start developing in infancy and are crucial building blocks to skills they will use throughout their life. And finally, as a caretaker you get the beautiful experience of seeing your child having fun and developing a love for music, and creating special bonds with them as you “play musically” together.





At Clap for Classics, we believe that musical play is the cornerstone of our educational philosophy. We encourage you to introduce music and musical concepts into your child’s life in a meaningful way. You don't need a musical background to do so; you just need to be willing to have fun and be playful with your child.


We hope this post has given you not only a better understanding of what musical play is and why it’s so important, but some ideas of how to incorporate more musical play into your time with your little one.


If you’re interested in learning more, we offer a variety of courses and resources to help you incorporate musical play into your child’s life. Reach out if you have any questions, and check out what we have to offer at  

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