Did you know it takes just one generation of not being sung to for people to think that they can’t sing? One generation. Take a moment and think of how many lullabies you know. Ten? Five? One?
Considering that humans have always made music, it is astounding how many parents arrive in their first music session and declare that they cannot sing. Archaeological digs have uncovered bone flutes, music centred corroborees are detailed in cave drawings and ancient drums have been found the world over. And yet we have become passive music consumers instead of active music makers. What went wrong? We believe that it can be put down to a few things:
A steady increase in music related technology since the 1920’s. As the presence of gramophones, record players, cassette players, CDs, MP3 and YouTube increases, organic music making decreases
A lack of respect for creativity in formal education shaping our current culture
A breakdown in community connectedness. As our lives get busier, there is less opportunity to gather for music making both as a community and within our own families.
How you can help your child to be musically intelligent
When it comes to learning to make music, the goal is to embrace your tuneful, beat-ful and artful self! In order to encourage the development of these three components, we can provide our children with support in the following ways.
Are we singing in a pitch that children can reproduce for themselves accurately? Are we singing songs that are vocally appropriate for the age and physical development of their voices?
Are they immersed in the whole tonal language of music? In my sessions I sing in a rainbow of tonal colours. From ancient modes, to modern major and minors, pentatonic, whole tone, chromatic scales, to name a few.
Introduce your child to film scores and classical music next time you are in the car. They’ll be transported by them. They’re magical! Does your child hear polyphony? Rich harmonies on various instruments and with voices? Are you sharing songs from your parent’s and grandparent’s past that can help to build intergenerational bonds? Are these songs that your children will one day sing to their own babes?
This is one you probably already do without thinking. Bouncing them on your knee, tapping on the ground so that they can feel the vibrations and dancing around your kitchen to music with strong beat from your culture and others. All this is helping your kids to be beat-ful!
Have you danced with your baby to the blues, to funk, to Latin, to jazz, to an Irish jig? All of these styles feel different and encourage varied movement as we immerse ourselves in the beat.
We’ve saved the best for last. This is arguably the most important element.
Are we encouraging the art? Is the text stale and monotone or lacking emphasis? We don’t want to sound like zombie drones. We want to be fresh and inspired!
Rhymes and songs should be scrumptious, delicious and like your life would be incomplete without them. That’s the “art” part, and that is what is so often missing when enjoying musical experiences in modern life. Is the text in the rhyme or song funny, sad, tender, playful, charming or gross? Are the children getting that from the delivery? Imagine; you could you be a story-teller not just through books, but through music!
The gift of music is something your child will share with you for a lifetime. Why not start sharing in the joy right now? Just remember: tune, beat and art. Give it a go!