09 May 2013

The Simple Joy of Song

Music has always been a significant part of my life. I began playing flute in fourth grade and played all the way through college. I sang in chorus just as long, and even though I was never a lead singer, I was a solid ensemble leader and held my own. So when my daughter was born, I knew that music would play a big role in what my definition of motherhood meant. What I didn’t anticipate was what a large part of our everyday routine would include music, or how well my daughter would respond to it.

Singing is one of the first things we do in the morning and one of the last things we do at night. There is no better way to guarantee a smile on my daughter’s face than a song. She dances and even now at seven months old “sings” (yes, it’s a monotone “ah” but it is a distinct and different sound than anything else she does). It has helped me entertain her in a screen-free environment. It’s also in my arsenal to survive all those meltdown moments we all have in the car or otherwise.

Psychologists, neuroscientists and early childhood experts agree benefits to music in early childhood are numerous. Reading and math skills can improve with the use of reasoning and comprehension skills. Music helps with phonological processing and language, as well as social skills. Moving to the music and using simple instruments help with gross and fine motor skills. Music also encourages creativity. These early years are very critical to lifetime learning, as this is when brains make connections and essentially learn how to learn. This is why early childhood education is so important, in school and at home.

When I talk to people about singing many say, “Well, my voice isn’t very good.” Let me tell you, you will never have a better or more captive audience. Your child or grandchild doesn’t care what you sound like, to them your voice alone is music to their ears. The second excuse I get is “I don’t know any songs.” We all have songs we like. There is no rule out there that says that we need to sing kids songs to our children. I would shy away from hard metal and rap (which have shown to do more harm than good) but other than that the sky’s the limit. Cora enjoys the Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Drifters, just as much as Raffi and other classic preschool tunes.

I’ll give you a sample of our daily song routine to get you started:
  • Wake Up Songs – Mr. Sun and an edited version of Good Mornin’ from the show Singin’ in the Rain 
  • Lunchtime Songs – Apples and Bananas 
  • Good Night Songs/Lullabies – Hush Little Baby, Baby Mine from Dumbo, and Lullaby from the show Pajanimals.

During the day we cycle through any number of tunes. Some of her favorites include: Do Re Mi, My Favorite Things, Chim Chim Cher-ee, White Coral Bells, Bare Necessities, She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Five Little Speckled Frogs, Six Little Ducks, Zip A Dee Do Dah.

If you need even more ideas follow my Kids Songs Pinterest Board.

I think the most surprising thing to me is how much I missed music and singing in my everyday life. Even if I’m just singing for my daughter and myself, it brings a smile to my face and joy to my life not to mention my daughter’s.

So sing a song.

Vanessa Williams is the author of A simply good life where she explores how lower standard of living doesn’t mean lower quality of life. After her decision to  get off the beaten track and forge new paths she has found that living with less actually means living with more. Vanessa explores the luring and dangerous grounds of the consumerism trap and offers a solemn and wise account of her real life experiences on the quest to finding what truly matters in life. Connect to Vanessa via twitter and facebook.