People often ask me how they can influence their child’s musical
development. There has been much research published lately on the
benefits of various musical experiences. But most of us know that
children are naturally musical. They love to dance and sing. So here
are some first steps you can take to nurture your child’s natural
desire for music.
Sing to your child and let your child sing to you. It would be
great if every parent had a beautiful voice, but it really isn’t
necessary. Allow yourself the freedom to sing, songs that are at your
child’s level, the best you can. Short, simple, nursery songs and
child’s game songs are a great starting place. Children love
repetition, so be prepared to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” 100 times.
You will tire of it long before your child does.
child song games that you played as a child. “Ring Around the Rosy”,
“London Bridge”, even “The Wheels on the Bus”. Small children love
these songs and games because they can remember all the words and they
can do the game. As your children grow, add story songs, songs with two
parts like “The Bear Song” and additive songs which get more
complicated as you add words. Add longer songs and more complicated
games to your repertoire such as rounds and songs with many layered
parts. But, don’t tell them I told you, even big Fifth Graders will
gladly sing “You Can’t Ride in My Little Red Wagon”.
John Holt, author and educator, wrote a great book about learning called How Children Learn.
In it he describes many ways in which adults affect the way children
grow and learn. One of my favorite concepts from this book is that
children learn to value what adults value. This applies directly to
musical learning. If you value your child’s singing and musical
exploration, they will value it too. If you value wholesome children’s
games and songs, they will too. So, purchase a cd or cassette by
Sharon, Lois and Bram or Raffi. Look through the children’s section at
a record store for a variety of musical styles: try Yo-Yo Ma’s
children’s recording, Bob Carlisle, The King’s Singers, For Our
Children and Disney.
There also are many songbook resources
available from local stores and catalogs. It is important to find
variety in the music your child experiences and sings. We know that
music affects our attitudes. Help your child find music that will
encourage a positive attitude.
Most of all, allow your child to explore her musical world. Let him
sing his day to you. Let her make up songs about what happened or where
she’s going. Let him find music in daily activities such as the hum of
the car or airplane, the songs of the birds, the rhythm of speech and
words. Let her experience music in a variety of ways and that music
will be returned to you ten fold.
Music educators believe that all children are innately
musical. All people are able to participate in, appreciate or listen to
music. Adults merely need to allow children to be musical without
judging the result. One doesn’t need to perform at Carnegie Hall to
have a valuable musical life.
Submitted by Sheila Sullivan Buck, Music Teacher and Orff Specialist.