Music is a language!
Singing is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, and it also helps them learn new words! It helps us to express our feelings and helps us to understand that others feel the same emotions we do. When we share music, it helps to bring us together, just as our spoken language does.
To help children experience music at a young age, we need to make it accessible: for them to hear, listen, respond and then create.
Below are some suggestions for activities that children can respond to by interaction such as singing, clapping, and listening:
There are two pitches that young children can recognize easily and respond to. They are found throughout the world in children’s play:
RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY. Visually * – ** – (sol-mi-sol-sol-mi)
Substitute “COME, COME, SIT BY ME” and you have a way to gain their attention with pitch.
If you CLAP the “RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY” rhythm, it becomes a way of gaining attention through rhythm without needing to raise your speaking voice.
After they recognize this pattern you can change it up easily! For example, using your hands on knees (called patching), rhythm sticks, drums or other percussive instruments. You can also invite them to clap it back to you as a way of showing they heard and understand what you are trying to communicate (as a retired music teacher, I used this method all the time to start class). Then, of course, be ready with a story or activity that is fun!
There are many singing questions and games that you can use daily with children. This is just the beginning, and of course there are other tunes with more than two pitches and varied rhythms that can be used daily. The above is just Step One in integrating music and singing into your daily activities with young children.
I would advise that your singing voice be pitched high.
Children’s voices are naturally in a high range. Sometimes children will try to sing using low voices because they hear these tones in popular music. Encourage them to sing with a robin’s voice instead of a whale’s (or whatever animal example will work best for you).
Experimenting with the concept of HIGH/LOW is also beneficial.
Be sure you are using high /low as pitch, not LOUD /SOFT as volume.
If you wish to explore LOUD/SOFT, that is good, too! You can teach older toddlers or young children the difference between an inside voice and an outside voice or asking them to call a friend’s name from 2 feet away and then again from 10 feet away.
FAST/SLOW is another element of music to be explored thru movement.
Using a hand drum or just claps, you can invite them to walk to the beats. Vary the tempo.
Turn everyday moments, like bath time or diaper time, into a fun musical activity. Listen here to fun musical playlists to sing, clap, and dance along to the music with your little ones curated by Spotify.
About our guest blogger:
Sally Jane Tanzer is a retired music teacher. Her last position was choral director at Hillsborough Community College in Ybor City. Sally has taught vocal music at all levels from Elementary to College. “Sharing music brings people of all ages together and should be a natural part of every child’s day.”