Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do You Hear What I Hear?

instruments, orchestra, listening skills, follow instruments in a song, music, children's music, music games

Do you hear what I hear?

The other evening we were driving home with the classical station playing on the radio when I heard my 4 year old daughter say from the backseat, “That is a flute.”  “That is a cello.”  “That is a violin.”  “That is the flute again.”

She was naming the instruments as they were featured in the song.

I was delighted that she could recognize and name the different instruments.  She is actually paying attention to all the music we play at our house and studio!

You can do this at home!

There are several ways to practice hearing the instruments played in a piece.

One way is to do what my 4 year old did and just start naming all the instruments you hear and recognize.  The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is a great one to start with since each section of the orchestra gets featured one at a time.  It is easy to pinpoint which instrument is playing.  Hint:  The first four sections are woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion.

Another way to practice hearing instruments is to pick an instrument and follow it all the way through a song.

My Little Musicians classes really enjoy following the cuckoo clock throughout The Toy Symphony by Leopold Mozart.  I have them raise their hands over their heads every time they hear a cuckoo.  They really enjoy using their bodies!

Another great cuckoo clock song is Polka Francaise by Strauss.  I have the students do a little hop every time they hear the cuckoo clock.

Make it a habit to point out which instrument is playing whenever you listen to music.  You may be listening to rock when there is a guitar solo.  Point it out!  Say, “Listen to that guitar solo!”

When you label the instruments, your child will learn to recognize their sounds and will soon be delighting you with their knowledge of instruments.

Give it a try!

If you enjoyed this you might like Family + Music = Love  and Take a Nature-Sound Walk


  1. This is a great idea. My husband is very musical. He can hear the instruments easily. I try sometimes to follow an instrument. I will see if my kids can do it. It's good practice.

    1. Thanks for reading, Michelle. Hope your children have fun listening for instruments!

  2. Great idea! You are brilliant at making very practical suggestions that will have a profound effect on children's learning. Thanks for having such a helpful blog. Carolyn

    1. Thanks Carolyn. My hope is that readers will enjoy these activities with their children or students and all have a great time while learning!