Musical ways to reach out to your neighborhood
Gone are the days of asking your next-door neighbor for a cup of sugar, but nevertheless, putting in the effort to reach out to your neighbors can create a greater sense of well-being.
Neighbors are close in proximity and can serve as a great support system, offering a variety of skill sets and perspectives. Perhaps you can trade your car repair skills for a neighbor’s reupholstery abilities, for example, cutting costs for both families. You and your trusted neighborly friends can watch one another’s kids in an emergency or after school. Your children can learn about other families’ holiday traditions and you can share your own traditions, too.
It can be a challenge to find ways to reach out to neighbors today, but music can open the door to share the love of Christ by inviting others into your everyday life. Here are a few ways to jumpstart your brainstorming:
Dress rehearsal dinner
Perhaps a child in your life tends to get stage fright before school or church plays; chances are, one or two of their friends tend to get nervous as well. Instead of simply encouraging your child to muster up the courage on their own, you can bring in their nervous friends to show the kids how they can work together to be brave.
Reach out to the children’s parents and invite them to a “dress rehearsal dinner” at your home, to share a meal and watch the children perform their lines or songs before the big event. This will enable them to practice in an encouraging environment and create space for the kids to share their fears with one another and commit to standing together in the performance. They can talk about how they might be able to help each other if one gets scared or forgets their lines. This will teach the children how to be brave and also to connect with the people around them, as you connect with the parents as well. Who knows—it might even become a tradition worth keeping!
Tiny yard-concert change-raiser
This is a musical lemonade stand for social good! If your kids and/or neighbor children enjoy singing or playing instruments, show them how to use their talents for others’ benefit by hosting a tiny concert in the yard, with lemonade sales to raise money/change for a cause they care about. The “stage” can simply be a couple of chairs or perhaps the front steps or porch of the house. You can print off simple advertisements to post around the neighborhood with the kids or use social media to reach out to your neighbors if you’re connected with them online.
On the day of the tiny “event”, the kids can set up the table for hot chocolate or lemonade and then play their favorite songs. You can encourage the kids to reach out to the neighbors that come by, with your supervision. At the end of the allotted time, you can count the donations raised through the kids’ musical venture, and then send a follow up to the neighborhood and celebrate their willingness to serve.
Mini music club
The American Psychological Association cites Dr. Daniel J. Levitin’s research which says that listening to and playing music increases antibody production in the body’s immune system, as well as decreases the stress hormone, cortisol. Children face a variety of stressors as they grow up and music can be a healthy means of stress relief, providing them with a fun and relaxing way to cope with life’s challenges. Though disciplined practice definitely has a valuable place, music can also be a form of play for children as they simply play music for the fun of it.
One way to reach out to your neighborhood is to invite a few neighbor friends over to join the musical club once a week or month with their kazoos, guitars, recorders, keyboards or other instruments to sit and play together. The music they create might not sound pleasant, but it will give the kids an opportunity to practice playing and creating together as a team. You can help them obtain the chords to a favorite song to learn together or show them the basics of how to improvise on the spot. Children that might not have other exposure to music can learn along with the others in a low-pressure environment, much like the porch-pickers of years past. If they spend their childhood practicing music consistently with friends, who knows what they could create as they get older?
You can also invite the children’s parents to a periodic “concert” to showcase the kids’ creations or even invite them to participate in the club themselves, if they are musicians, composers or vocalists. It can be as organized or simple as fits with your current season, being just an hour on the porch once a week or something more elaborate.
What challenges have you faced in reaching out to your neighbors? When is a time when someone has reached out to your family? How did your family interact with neighbors growing up and what was the effect of that interaction/lack of interaction?
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