“I can’t sing. OK, I’ll sing with the children. They don’t know the difference between a good voice and a bad one.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard some variation of these lines during my 30 years as an early childhood consultant and children’s recording artist. Even some leaders in our field refuse to sing-with children or adults-because they claim they are tone-deaf, have awful voices, or “simply can’t sing a note.” Children, however, seem to have a clearer understanding of what constitutes a good voice. The children I know hear every voice for what it has to offer: Beauty. Power. A way for human beings to connect. The opening of a soul.
During my early years, attending church in rural South Carolina, my parents and relatives often sang and moved their bodies with the music. We didn’t go to concerts; my parents didn’t have the money. The porch, living room, or car was our stage. We took the music with us. What I enjoyed most about music then was having everyone be part of the song. I still do. That value -that everyone can contribute to the song – has carried on in my family through my adulthood. I’ve given a recital at Carnegie Recital Hall, but when I visit my family, no one says, “It’s time for Thomas to sing. Let’s hear Thomas sing.” In our family we sing together
Why Have We Stopped Singing? If you feel shy about singing, you’re not alone. We don’t sing as much as we used to in this country because of the television and recording industries. We have become accustomed to passively watching performers rather than making our own music, dances, and visual art. There are more and more trained singers, but they are trained to perform music, not to connect with the community. As a classically trained singer and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, I say this from experience.
Children who do not hear your singing voice are missing something irreplaceable. And you are too, if you never sing to them. Consider this a challenge to you, and everyone you know. Some children won’t sing because the adults in their lives didn’t sing. And if children don’t find value and comfort in their own voices, they will be much less likely to sing as adults. We say children learn through play. So we have to sing and play with children. An important part of that is singing. I invite you to reclaim the beauty that is your singing voice. And the next time I see you, I want to hear it!
Thomas Moore, Ph.D is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, early childhood consultant, an author and children’s recording artist. Visit him at www.drthomasmoore.com