Posts Tagged 'create a rich musical environment'

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

 

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Fun Ways to Beat the Heat with Music

Mom Singing with ChildSummer is over as everyone heads back to school, right? Wrong! Well, half of that is completely untrue for us Austinites. Even though our “fall” schedules tell us it’s over, the heat of summer is going nowhere fast. If you’re in need of some fun ways to beat the heat and survive the sticky, icky, moody late afternoons and weekends, let music be your guide!

I have two words for you: DANCE PARTY! This is a highly underrated, useful activity that can be done indoors, yet can be incredibly active, burning off energy, and elevating mood for grownups and kids alike. Parents, as we constantly say to you in class, the more fun you’re having, the more fun your little one will have. Get nostalgic with your song selection; have fun creating a special dance party playlist, bust out your favorite hip hop from high school, or the songs you danced to at your wedding, then push the coffee table out of the way, close the curtains, turn up the AC, and let loose! If you’re head-banging or tush-pushing around the living room, having a silly blast, there’s no way your babies, toddlers, and preschoolers won’t have a great time watching—and most likely will be inspired to join in, too!

Along similar lines is a jam session. We do this in class every week with our play-along ritual, but make no mistake; this can be just as active an experience as the dance party if you let it. Again, you’re the leader. While setting your kid in a pile of instruments, putting on their favorite music can be great, it is much more engaging if you’re actively involved too. Sometimes (when they let you), you be the DJ and play your music and go nuts on that bongo like you’re the drummer from Def Leppard. Some other ideas for jamming are: use kitchen wares or unexpected toys as instruments, get crafty and make your own instruments, be a parade and march around the whole house, or find a spot in front of a mirror and make silly, intense jam-faces. Like the dance party, this can last a good long while if you’re having fun too, and can use up some necessary end-of-the-day energy when the park is a no-go.

Another idea is: water play!! Of course this can be outdoors, in the pool or sprinkler, but you can make a fun water play station inside on those days you can’t bare to go out again. Perhaps you run an early or extra bath (in swimsuits?!?), maybe you bring chairs or stools to the kitchen or bathroom sink, or put towels or a blanket down on the floor and get out a big kitchen bowl or laundry tub and fill it with water! Most of our Music Together collections have at least one song about water, like “I Had a Little Frog” from the summer collection, or “Canoe Song” that we’ll be doing in the Fall Session. Rhythmically splash and sing along to these of course, but honestly, any song can be a water song! If “Ridin’ in the Car” is still a favorite—make it about a boat instead of a car. If one of the many train songs pops into your head—pick up all the water dwelling animal bath toys you have and train them around the water.

These ideas are fairly simple, and require nothing but tools you already have, mostly being: you. Remember this on these endless sweltering days and beat the heat with music!

Vanessa Heilman
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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