Some people protest that they look ridiculous or undignified if they sing. Do we worry about that when we are reading excitedly? When kissing a loved one? Or eating our favorite foods? Any activity can feel ridiculous if you think about it too long. Creative people learn to hold their heads high while doing things that might seem ridiculous. Usually, these are the most imaginative things we do.
A challenge to sing. The effects of singing are almost miraculous:
• To quiet a room full of rambunctious preschoolers in a hurry, start singing. The technique also works, of course, for parents and grandparents at naptime. When you sing a lullaby, the child can sleep, because the child is with a peaceful person.
• To relax apprehensive parents at a meeting, sing a couple of funny kids’ songs with them and watch them view you differently. You and they are suddenly on the same level. If your relationship has been insecure, it can be strengthened with a few songs.
• To share something vital about who you are and your love of children, choose call-and-response songs that even young children sing back to you.
• To loosen up business or government leaders who are visiting your school or in a meeting. There’s nothing like a rousing rendition of “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” I know-I led my fellow Charlotte Rotary members in his classic just a few months ago.
What Can You Sing? If you don’t know how to begin, start at the opening of the day. Sing in your classroom as the children are arriving. In the mornings, to warm up your voice and the children’s voices, hum a little bit. Show children all the possibilities through song. Sing high, then low. Soft, then loud. Change the words of a familiar song like “Twinkle, Twinkle.” Change the melody. Play with your song, just as you would take a ball and dribble, roll, or twirl it. If you tell me there’s only one way to play with a ball, it limits the possibilities for me. The same is true for a song.
Pay attention to the songs you choose. Select one in a comfortable key (in other words, not too low, not to high) so children can sing it. Sometimes it’s not the song, but the arrangement that is difficult. Be aware that some songs are not designed for the average singer (as anyone who has tried to belt out a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” can tell you.) A particular song might just be a poor choice for you or your kids. Try playing The World Sings Good Night, a CD of lullabies from around the world, in your classroom. You’ll be astounded at the variety of voices-their pitch, timbre, the types of melodies they sing. It will open your mind to what constitutes a “good voice.” You may also want to try “I Am Special”.
There’s always someone who will like a certain voice and others who will not. For our purposes, that doesn’t matter. All voices are beautiful! We are trying to involve and engage all children. Singing is a proven way to do this. We teach as we sing.
Thomas Moore, Ph.D is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, early childhood consultant, author and children’s recording artist. Visit him at www.drthomasmoore.com