Posts Tagged 'learning through repetition'

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


Let’s Sing It Again Mommy!

Let's Sing It Again MommyHow many times have you listened to the “Hello Song”, “They Come Back”, or “John the Rabbit”?  My kids are obsessed with “She Sells Sea Shells”, and I have probably sung it over 100 times this semester. As a parent and a teacher I often burn out on the songs. It is important to remember that children learn from repetition. Think back to middle and high school. How many times did you listen to that special love song? I know I had a few mixed tapes that I listened to over and over again. It was necessary for me to do this in order to learn the words and the tunes. This is exactly what our children are doing through this repetition – they are learning basic music skills.  They are making connections with words, tonalities, rhythms, emotions, and experiences.

Here are a few tips to help keep our children’s favorite songs fresh:

  • Try singing without the recording.
  • Look at the song through your child’s eye.  What do you think draws them to it?  Try to focus on that.
  • Make up your own words to reflect an activity you are doing:
    • “Brush, brush, brush your teeth.  Brush your teeth together.”
    • “Everybody loves to eat their broccoli.”
    • “This train is cleaning up his room now.”
  • Use movements and activities from class at home.
  • Music Together has created books that go along with the “Hello Song” and “She Sells Sea Shells”. My children adore these books and we use them all the time.
  • Make up your own activity:
    • My daughter and I colored our own pictures of seashells.
    • We made our own orchestra with kitchen items.
    • We play the game “Roll Over” with stuffed animals.

We all have different ways of responding to our children’s same song requests over and over and over again. What has worked for you?  Do you keep the song on repeat? What things have you done to keep that particular song fresh?  I would love to hear your ideas in our comments.

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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