Sometimes parents are reluctant to include musical activities for kids because they don’t think they sing well, know enough, or might do something wrong. These issues may hold them back from sharing wonderful experiences with kids. Do you have any of these concerns? Would you be surprised to learn that it’s okay if you don’t have a great voice or don’t play an instrument? Yes, you can still share musical activities with kids. While children need a variety of musical activities to build important brain pathways, they also need to create memories of a sound they will remember in their hearts—the voice of a parent.
One of the first musical activities for parents and caregivers is to sing to children, especially lullabies. Even simple songs are very complex. Did you know that brains need to coordinate about 100 muscles in order to sing? Plus, minds need to remember words and tunes.
In the video below it’s possible to see what happens during singing. Professor Johnson from the Beckman Institute sings “If I Only Had A Brain.” This only shows the body not the brain activity. If singing doesn’t come easy for you, it’s no wonder, because it’s really pretty complicated! Adults often share songs they remember from their childhoods like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, The Eensey Weensy (or Itsy Bitsy) Spider, The Wheels on the Bus, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, and others. There are versions for these in dozens and dozens of languages. Do you have some favorites?
If you are hesitant to sing, choose a song that is very familiar. For well-known and popular songs, you can probably find the tunes on line and sing along to the music. Try using different sounds to your voice, such as singing in a little bug’s voice, a monster’s big, deep voice, a witch’s voice, or an animal’s voice. Once you have tried singing in a great variety of silly, strange voices, your own normal one will sound much better. For fun, sing in a ghost’s voice—that’s one that doesn’t make any noise at all, only the mouth moves. After all, if we can’t see a ghost, we can’t hear one either.
Besides singing regular songs, make up ones for what you and your child are doing. Use tunes like Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush and change the words: This is the way that we wash a face, or Here we go to the grocery store, etc. Instead of telling kids for the zillionth time to get ready to go, you could try singing We’ve got to hurry or we’ll be late. Sometimes, the change of tactic is quite effective.
When it comes to singing with kids, they listen with their hearts as well as their ears. What songs can you and your child sing today?