Archive for December, 2014

Sounds of the Season

Holiday MusicLast week I had the pleasure of singing with the Women of Heartsong choir for a group of elderly residents at a retirement home here in town. We meet on Monday evenings and one Monday each month is devoted to bringing music to retirement homes and assisted living facilities. This most recent performance for the residents at Buckner Villas was a very special experience.
The choir’s repertoire is varied. We sing everything from James Taylor and The Beatles to classics like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” For this performance we also sang some holiday songs in our set. When it was time to sing the holiday songs we walked out into the audience and I sat down beside a sweet woman who reached over and held my hand as we sang “Winter Wonderland”, “Joy to the World”, and “Silent Night.” When we would get to an especially full or resonant chord in the songs, she would squeeze my hand tighter, feeling the power in the familiar music. Before I left, I asked her what her favorite song was from the evening’s performance and she told me, with tears in her eyes, “Oh, honey, I liked them all…but that ‘Silent Night’ was really something.”
The Winter Holidays are full of emotion. Rarely do we experience during such a small time frame, the roller coaster ride of excitement (presents!), frustration (parking at the mall), joy (families gathering together), stress (again…families gathering together), and the bitter-sweet nostalgia of days gone by as we do at this point in the year.
During this especially busy time, don’t forget to set aside little moments to make some musical memories with your child! Try singing a well known tune like “Jingle Bells” with words that you create yourself, that fit an event such as going to dinner:
“Time to go, time to go, time to put on shoes!
Let’s get out the door so we can eat some yummy food!”
Or how about having some fun with a kitchen play-along? Get out those pots and pans, Tupperware containers, and wooden spoons and turn up the music! You may find that a kitchen floor jam session was just what you needed to unwind from a crazy trip to the grocery store.
Remember that you are the most important musical role model in your child’s life. When you sing with your child, you’re giving her a very important gift that only you can give-the foundation for a lifetime of music making and appreciation! Whatever you do, have a safe and happy holiday enjoying the sounds of the season!
Sally Nava
Music Together Teacher

 

Holiday Music on Repeat

holiday musicAll of a sudden it’s here again; the holidays! Regardless of which holidays you celebrate, or what your family beliefs and traditions are, there is a common association with this time of year-and I don’t mean frantic shopping benders, I mean music. Holiday music starts pumping through the air waves before we’ve even finished our Thanksgiving dishes.

Most of us are so familiar with holiday tunes that we often sing or hum along without even thinking about it. (I catch my husband whistling “Silver Bells”, completely unaware that he’s doing it!) We’ve had decades of Decembers to hear and learn these songs. We may not know the words to all 5 verses, but we know the chorus, and we can belt the melody with the best of ‘em! I had a moment in class last week, that really stood out to me, and made me think about these carols from a different perspective…

Looking around our community circle, the parents were singing and smiling as we exuberantly sang “Jingle Bells” together. The children, I noticed, for the most part were looking around the circle without smiles. Their expressions were more of wonder, curiosity, and even a bit of confusion, as if thinking: “What the heck is this song that all the grownups are having so much fun singing?” Only in that moment did it fully occur to me that most of them are too young to have clear memories of it from the year before. For some, it may well have been the first time they’d heard it! Imagine, not knowing “Jingle Bells!”

Music Together knowingly emphasises repetition in its curriculum. We’ve just been singing the same set of songs for 12 weeks! Though many children are able to enjoy the songs from the first week of a session, it isn’t usually until after the recording has been played dozens (maybe hundreds) of times in the car, and they’ve attended class several weeks (even about 6) that they really dive in and get the most out of the music.

In the past, I remember including “Jingle Bells” in my lesson plan two weeks in a row, and then again at a holiday sing-a-long after the session ended. When a 3-year-old requested it for his January birthday party, I thought this was the best thing ever! He was not done with the repetition yet! He needed more!

So my challenge to you is this: give your children as much repetition with holiday music as we do our song collections each session. Don’t settle for it being only in the background, bring it to the foreground, and give your kiddo the wonderful opportunity to experience the holiday spirit through music. Choose a couple of your favorite songs or an album that you love dearly, and focus there for your own family’s holiday music session. Sing with the recordings, but also sing without them. Make a point to get out instruments, get up and dance, and have holiday music making time, but also sing them casually while you’re cooking, cleaning, shopping, playing, and while you’re snuggling up for bed. Doing this will spread the holiday cheer, share (and create new) family traditions, and give your little one a deep, memorable musical experience. And just maybe, the gift will keep giving next year and in a lifetime to come.

Vanessa Heilman
Music Together Teacher, Certification Level I

 


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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