Archive for October, 2013

Sing Along with The Holidays

halloween-pumpkin-2If you are registered with us this session, do you realize you have 25 Halloween songs at your finger tips? It’s true. You also have 25 songs for Thanksgiving, Rosh Hashanah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, Ramadan, or any other holiday that your family celebrates!

I’m not talking about “The Monster Mash”, and I’m not talking about “Silver Bells”, I’m talking about the Flute collection!

Music Together teaches us that the way a song is written is a platform; it’s one way to sing a song; it’s a place to start. The beauty of personal music making (especially with young children!) is that from this starting point, the possibilities are nearly infinite. With the “holiday season” upon us, let’s celebrate with children through song. This can enhance experiences, deepen understanding, ease transition or unfamiliarity, spark musical imagination, and of course be tons of fun!!

If you simply consider the faces, places, and senses surrounding a given holiday, that can be all the material you need to give a song some kid-appropriate holiday wrapping. Here are some examples to try:

1) Faces: Who do you see? Who are the relevant fictional or historical characters involved? What do they wear? What do you wear?

Halloween example: “The Three Ravens”

There were three *black cats, sat in a tree, down a down, hey down a down.

They were as spooky as spooky might be, with a down.

The one of them said to his mate, where shall we all celebrate?

With a down derry, derry, derry down, down.

*substitute any costume or character: bats, witches, princesses, super heroes, etc…

2) Places: Where do you go? What does it look like? What do you do there? How do you get there?

Halloween example: “Rocketship”

Trick-or-treat, trick-or-treat, doorbell, doorbell… Yay!

Haunted house, haunted house, jack-o-lantern… Run!

Halloween, halloween, party, party… Boo!

3) Senses: What do you eat? Smell? How do you decorate? What’s the weather like?

Halloween example: “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”

I’ve been eating lots of candy, all the live long day,

I’ve been eating lots of candy, just to pass the time away,

Can’t you hear the children laughing? Staying up so late at night.

Can’t you hear the parents pleading? Won’t we sleep tonight?

Don’t think too much, just do!

Holiday cheers,

Vanessa Heilman
Certification Level I, Music Together Teacher

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Following Your Child’s Lead

MomDaughterDancingDuring my classes I will often move from my lesson plan to follow a child’s lead. For example, this week the play-along became a big parade where all the parents joined in, and in another class I added 5 extra verses with “The Three Ravens” because the children were having a blast putting dolphins, trains, and monkeys in the tree.

Throughout your day you can follow your child’s physical cues to bring music into their play:

– Are they getting antsy? Turn up the music and dance along or have a parade throughout your house.

– If your child is sad, break out into a silly song, or sing the incorrect words to a song. They love to correct grown-ups when we are “wrong”!

– During story time bring out your Music Together songbook. Your child might initiate a song from looking at the pictures.

– And of course if they are sleepy you can sing a lullaby.  Check out Vanessa’s blog post on The Softer Side.

Once you have started your music play, you can take suggestions verbally or through their movement cues:

  • Make up your own verses to “Jim Along Josie.” My favorite is playing a freeze game:  ”Hey quickly, quickly Josie (freeze). Hey quickly, quickly Joe (freeze).” Encourage them to make up their own verses. You can ask, “How do you like to move?”
  • While playing with egg shakers, follow your child’s movements. Change the song to go along with the movement. For example, with “Dum Ditty Dum,” you could sing – “fast, fast, fast, fast” or “slow, slow, slow, slow.”
  • What other animals or things do they want in the tree in the song “The Three Ravens”? Remember that by using your child’s suggestions, you are encouraging creativity and are building confidence in music making for your child.  It’s okay to sing the verse even if it does not make sense to us. It’s okay to put a fire truck in the tree!

Remember to feel free to change the lyrics, tempos, and movements with your child. And by following your child’s movements, sounds, and words throughout the music making fun, you are building your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem!

Becca Myers
Certification Level I, Music Together Teacher


The Joy of Family Music

Heartsong Music teaches Music Together®, the internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through grade two and the adults who love them.

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