I was shopping for a mattress pad at Target, exciting right? As I was standing there in the aisle, debating cotton, alternative down, water proof; I heard a little child sitting in her mom’s cart with some toy playing music keeping her occupied. The mom was doing her shopping and as she perused the aisle she clapped along with the beat of the music. When the music would stop, she continued to clap the beat. The child was so engaged and watched her mom as she played and danced around the Target aisle having fun and singing to her daughter while getting her shopping done. I wanted to go up to her and say, “way to go, keep making that music!” What a great example for all of us. Music can be a great tool, it can help you through a tough transition, it can put a child at ease, it can create bonding moments and foster emotional intelligence, it can make time together fun and engaging, it can encourage imagination, it can help with language development. I could go on. Just like the mom in Target, engaging her daughter musically, as she sat in the cart, we too can use music as a tool.
At Heartsong, we are arming you with a musical arsenal. We want to give you the tools and the knowledge to create a rich musical environment at home, in the car, at Grandma’s, and even at Target. The average American family knows 3-5 songs to sing to their child. The ABC’s, Twinkle Twinkle, and Baa Baa Black Sheep all have the same melody, so that doesn’t leave us with much. In every class I ask my families to share musical experiences from the previous week. So many times I have heard, “whenever she gets upset in the car, all I have to do is turn on the CD and she calms down.” I also hear, “when we were on vacation, we were having a melt down, and I sang to him in the middle of the airport and it was the only thing that worked!” These moments show us how helpful it can be to have a song in your back pocket.
Even in class we will use our songs to transition from one song to the next, we sing Bye bye, or Bum bum as we put our sticks back into the basket. The children have grown accustomed to this ritual in class and know it means its time to put our instruments away. Sometimes we even sing a song about putting the play-along instruments back in the basket, substituting “clean up lyrics” to a song we already know. These methods can easily be used at home, not only to help make transitions smoother, but also as a great way to insert music as a part of your daily routine.
Every class we sing a lullaby, we quiet things down for a minute or two and we let the children hear our voices. So much bonding happens during a lullaby. In class we get a small peek sometimes into the special connection between parent and child. We want your child to hear your voice, even if they are across the room, your voice is your child’s most favorite voice. So, at home, when you are reading bedtime stories, add a song to the end of that ritual. It is an incredible gift to give that shares love and affection through music. Your voice can calm them and soothe them to sleep.
Music is FUN! Children are born musical, it is our job as grown-ups to support them in their musical growth. We can show them that we love music, and we can actively engage and make music fun! It is not only musical competence that we pass to them as we do our job as musical models, it is also the disposition towards music that we pass on. If your child doesn’t want to dance with you, don’t stop dancing, dance for them! Have a good time with music, if you hear your favorite song on the radio, sing out! It is not about what they do, it is about what YOU do. Their musical development is a complex process that takes years to complete. Why not give them every opportunity to share in a love for music that could last a lifetime? Don’t be afraid; sing, dance, make music fun!
We can give countless opportunities for imagination using music. If you are headed to the grocery store, you can sing the “Hello Song” to all the fruits and veggies you see in the produce department. You can make substitutions of words to almost any song or chant to include what you are doing that day. Children love to have their ideas validated: accept and include the dinosaur in the vegetable song, it doesn’t have to rhyme or even make sense. There are no rules, get creative!
Spontaneous musical moments can be easy, they can help you on a daily basis, and they can create a bond between you and your child. Use music to your advantage! Music can make a trip to Target more than just an errand. Keep a song in your back pocket, for a rainy day, or a long line at the grocery store. You never know when you might need it.
Certification Level I, Music Together Teacher