Posts Tagged 'Building your child’s musical memories'

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


Bringing Musical Memories To Life

I grew up singing the song “Crawdad” from this semester’s Fiddle Collection. I don’t even remember who sang this song to me and I don’t remember specifically singing the song with someone. But we all knew this song and it was a part of my childhood. This song brings back memories for me, but not a specific time or place or face. It reminds me of being young.

I assumed that everyone knew this song. In week one of this semester, I found out that many people had never heard this song. I was so familiar with the song that I couldn’t believe everyone didn’t know it as well. Then I realized that everyone has songs like “Crawdad” floating around in their memories waiting to be brought back to life.

Our children are building their library of musical memories right now. Every stage of their life will come with a memory soundtrack. We can’t pick which songs will mean something. We can’t choose which beats will remind them of their childhood. We can however pass along the songs that mean something to us. Songs that draw our emotions out will naturally mean more to our children.  Songs that meant something to our parents will mean more to our children. There are songs that will be passed along from one generation to the next.  It is important to share these songs with our children. Sharing these memories helps us bond one generation to the next.

There are several songs in the Fiddle Collection that your parents and grandparents might know: “Shenandoah”, “Crawdad”, “Marching and Drumming” (also known as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”), and “This Little Light of Mine”. Have your child ask grandma and grandpa if they know any of these songs and see what happens!

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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