Singing is good for you! seven simple strategies to get started….

I’m delighted to have Sarah Marsh from Musical Bumps write a guest blog on the value of music and a few tips on how to use singing to help your child develop.

Why do we sing at pre-school, in the home, out and about? Is it just because children like it, because it’s fun?  Or is there more to it than that?

There is much more to it than just fun (I’m a pre-school specialist music teacher, so you won’t be surprised to hear me say this!).  Sparkles have recently increased Musical Bumps visits from monthly to weekly (starting in September), and I’m very excited about what that will mean for the children (and staff)!

Music stands alone as a skill – as a musician, I want our children to be musical too. We play percussion and sing; finding the beat, exploring musical contrasts, and other skills including basic musical notation.  In addition to this, music has so much to offer the whole early years curriculum.  Communication is the most obvious – music has patterns that are clearer and more distinct than speech and intonations that are better defined than speech.  If we want our children to be good communicators, then the absolutely best thing to do is to sing with them.

Singing shouldn’t be limited to a weekly session however, so here are some ideas for singing your way through the week!

  1. Back to basics.  Whilst we might want to be bang up to date, there’s nothing wrong with singing some of those old songs.   Humpty dumpty, twinkle twinkle and those ever-spinning Wheels on the Bus are an important part of our heritage.  If you are lucky enough to have roots in other cultures, or know family and friends that have, then use those songs too.
  2. Can’t remember the words?  Dum di dum di dum will do just as well.  It’s not just about the words, it’s about the game, the interaction and the steady beat!
  3. Join a group! Singing is good for the grown ups too – so join a group like Musical Bumps with your child, or a community choir just for you – and get singing.  You’ll make new friends and learn lots of new songs too!
  4. Sing your way through the day….. have you got a “hello” song to greet your child with every morning (no? make one up – quickly!).  What about a “tidy up your room” song – it works well until your child turns into a teenager…
  5. Transactional singing – this call and response style is used right across Africa.  It’s a great way to use music to build communication.  You’ll feel daft at first singing “would you like some juice?” – but your child will love it and, with any luck, sing right back to you!
  6. Can’t sing, won’t sing?  Oh, go on….. no?  OK try some rhymes instead. Humpty dumpty works just as well (even better maybe) without the tune.  The pattern and intonation of your voice will be just as useful!
  7. Be a bit silly!  Don’t worry if you divert from real words – the sillier the better! Laughter and fun makes learning and life so much better!

Sarah Marsh (head of Musical Bumps)