Father with daughter on his lap teaching her guitar

Unlocking the transformative power of incorporating music in family life: A Family Guide to Parenting Musically

Case Western Reserve University Professor Lisa Huisman-Koops offers research, encouragement for families looking to integrate music into their lives

You don’t need to be musically inclined to parent musically. But incorporating music in your family’s daily life can foster deeper connections with each other—and with music itself.

That’s a message from Case Western Reserve University music education professor Lisa Huisman Koops, who’s spent the last 20 years researching how families can integrate music into their everyday routines and relationships.

The result: A Family Guide to Parenting Musically, Koops’ new book, which serves as a comprehensive toolkit with 70 activities tailored to engage families at every stage of life.

From singing and dancing to creating music together, Koops offers practical insights and research-based discussions to demonstrate the profound impact of music on family dynamics.

“At the heart of this guidebook are four key themes: All humans are musical, music is important, there are many ways to be musical and expressing agency as a family with music,” said Koops, who leads music education at CWRU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “By understanding and embracing these themes, families can unlock the transformative potential of music in their lives.”

Lisa Huisman Koops
Lisa Huisman Koops

Central to Koops’ approach is the concept of “musicking”—a term coined by musicologist Christopher Small—encompassing all forms of music-making, from listening to playing instruments. Through the Family Musicking Framework, readers are encouraged to analyze and enhance their family’s interactions with music—and each other through music.

Koops also covers topics that include the role of grandparents and other important adults in children’s musical development, developing healthy approaches to practicing, and activity suggestions for children ages infant through 12 years old.Top of FormBottom of Form

Modeling musicking as parents is a key ingredient to it all, Koops said.

“Children see the adults in their lives enjoying music, using playlists, and connecting with others through music,” she said. “They learn how to joyfully incorporate music into their own lives.”

It’s helpful, she said, that she’s already established solid relationships in the industry. Koops launched the “Parenting Musically” podcast in July 2022. The podcast showcases interviews with renowned musicians or their parents, featuring insights from industry luminaries such as Ziggy Marley and Maggie Baird, the mother of Billie Eilish.

For more information, contact Colin McEwen at colin.mcewen@case.edu.