On the Importance of Singing with Children
Singing is the single most important musical experience a child can have. It lays the foundation for all future musicality in life. In many years of teaching private music lessons and classes, I have seen that all children can learn to make music. Yet it is children who grew up in a singing home, who love to sing, that truly have a grasp for the inner nature of music and possess that musicality in their own music making. Just think of all that is at play when one sings – strong breath support, carefully attuned listening, recognition of patterns, replicating what one hears with the instrument of one’s own body. It is truly remarkable all that a child learns from singing.
From a child’s very first days of life, communication with her primary caregivers is of a musical nature. “Motherese” is the term given to the sing-songy, lyrical way in which a mother communicates with her infant. Yet even this seemingly simplistic gesture is imbued with creative purpose. The child learns to decipher pitch, phonemes (the individual units of speech), and the cadence of her mother tongue. Lullabies are sung to children across the globe, and help to tune the child in to the musical impulses of her own culture. Children learn rhythm through the musicality of the nursery rhyme and lullaby traditions unique to their own mother language. In this way, song brings children their first sense of language and communication. Singing also stimulates emotional and mental development, placing children on a path toward a fullness of spirit and intellect. And singing does so much more: it promotes language development, lightens the load of work, supports creative play, eases transitions in the day, and is a wonderful first step toward learning to play an instrument. It is truly difficult to overstate the importance of, but also the joy, of singing with children.