Posts Tagged 'repetition is good'

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


4 Simple Steps to Starting a Lullaby Ritual

As the word “may” initiates the lullaby “May All Children” for the first time in class this session, a four-year-old boy exclaims, “THIS IS OUR SONG!” as he dives to the carpet into his mom’s arms.

Lullabies resonate strongly with so many of us. I have very clear memories of my mother singing nightly lullabies to me growing up. There are a handful of songs that bring her voice into my head, and a smile into my heart, any and every time I hear them.

For the sweet vibrations of a lullaby ritual in your home, here are four steps to get started:

• Start simple. Sing one of the lullabies from the collection we’re using in class, a classic you remember from your own childhood, a holiday carol, an old folk song, or even your favorite chart topping pop ballad! It doesn’t really matter what song you sing-just sing!

• Don’t worry about the words. If you can’t recall the second half of the verse, just sing the parts you do know. In addition, you can try humming it, singing it on a single syllable like “la”, or even replacing all the lyrics with your child’s name.

• Sing from the heart. Young children are so connected to their parents’ voices; it doesn’t matter if you sound as beautiful as the voices on the professional recordings you have, or if it cracks a little on the high notes, or even if it’s a little off key. Hearing your voice softly singing is an expression of love, and can help your child relax, soothe stress, signal sleep time, and create memories and a lasting bond between you.

• Repetition is good. Repetition is good. Don’t feel that you need a massive repertoire in your back pocket, or that it takes all 32 verses of a song to keep it interesting. Children love and learn from repetition. Even a “la-la-la” version of one or two songs may be plenty for your nightly ritual; your child may even prefer this!

The gift of a song can resonate for a lifetime…

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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