Archive for April, 2016

Sing a Song of Sixpence – Music and Nursery Rhymes

Posted on: April 11th, 2016 by ctpadmin

Last week I promised more on the use of nursery rhymes as they may impact musical development. Here we go.

As I begin to write this post, I am struggling with what to share, so I have decided that sharing some of my observations in teaching music to young children for many years may be the best way to proceed.

IMG_2607The ways that I see music and nursery rhymes impacting development are as follows:

•They are short – making them easy to memorize

•They have a limited melodic range – making them easier to sing

•They rhyme – creating predictability and listening skills

•They are fun – can play with sounds and tones of voice

•They have rich language – useful in vocabulary development and possibly in musical sounds

•They create opportunities for movement – important for young children

After about 25 years of teaching music in the public school at all grade levels, I began my own music school to create classes for the very young child along with their parents.  It became very evident to me that children need exposure to quality music at a young age.  I learned about research that was concluding that brain development was greatly enhanced by exposure to music as a baby, and that the window of opportunity closes much earlier than most of us had supposed.

Most of the literature I used in those classes was based on nursery rhymes.  I would chant “Diddle, diddle dumpling” with infants as the parents and I moved their legs in time to the rhyme or bounce the child on my knee while singing “I Have  a Little Pony”.  As the child grew a bit older, I might give them a scarf to bounce to the rhythm of a chant called “Allee Gallee, Galloo”. One week a parent returned to class sharing that they had watched their toddler bouncing their scarf to a steady beat with no sound present!  This was really exciting because the child was hearing the chant internally. The development of inner hearing is a very important skill in silent reading.  This skill is called audition.

We played lots of circle games, singing the nursery rhymes or acting out the finger plays as we sing and/or chant.  If there wasn’t a finger play, we might pat the beat of the rhyme on our knees.  Steady beat is another aspect of music learning that is very helpful to children as they learn to read. This article may be of help in understanding the importance of steady beat.

What did I learn from all this? Singing nursery rhymes with your child can do the following:

•Share unimaginable joy with your child as you sing and chant

•Stimulate the brain

•Focus on the child

•Develop musical skills

•Increase vocabulary

•Show the child you love them

•Learn to rhyme

•Be silly together

•Create observant children

•Increase synapses in the brain

•Develop memory skills

I am passionate about having parents sing to their children because it is a priceless investment in their future development.  The personal touch is much better than using recorded music.  The child loves your voice because it is “you”.  Don’t worry if you aren’t the best singer.  Nursery rhymes make it easy!

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye!!!

Humpty, Dumpty; Twinkle, Twinkle; Hickory, Dickory; Peas Porridge; Diddle, Diddle Dumpling

Posted on: April 5th, 2016 by ctpadmin

Humpty, Dumpty; Twinkle, Twinkle; Hickory, Dickory; Peas Porridge; Diddle, Diddle Dumpling

Can you finish all those lines?  Do you know more nursery rhymes?  Why is it important for your child to learn these?

Lots of questions for us to ponder today –

The introduction of nursery rhymes is very important in the development of young children.  Here are just a few areas of importance:

  • Language development-learn to differentiate between vowels and consonants, intonation, increase vocabulary
  • Pre-reading skills
  • Focused listening-we learn first by listening, then practicing orally.
  • Cognitive development-Creating imaginary pictures
  • Musical development-the development of rhythmic skills comes from the predictable cadence of the rhymes.
  • Physical development-finger plays that go with the rhymes are helpful in developing fine motor skills.  Acting out nursery rhymes can help with gross motor skills.

I just read an mind-boggling statistic -“…In 1945 the average elementary school student had a vocabulary of 10,000 words. Today, children have a vocabulary of only 2,500 words.” Article  The reason for poor vocabulary acquisition is probably because we are reading less to our infants.  That can be easily remedied by using nursery rhymes as a beginning step.IMG_2602

Nursery rhymes are a great way to stimulate a child’s imagination. They often are quick, (you can remember them, so, as a parent, you are able to recite them to and/or with your child at any time), they have rich vocabulary, usually have a very rhythmic cadence to them, can stimulate feelings, and are easy to memorize, for just a few examples.

Let’s focus just on language development today (even though I really want to talk about musical development – can you guess why?)

Vocabulary: Nursery rhymes have a rich vocabulary that may be learned by the young child through the context.  For example: There Was An Old Lady uses the words “squiggled” and “absurd”.  Those are vocabulary expanders.

Pre-reading skills: Rhyming is a common element in most nursery rhymes.  Because of this it is a tremendous tool in beginning reading skills.  All children must learn to rhyme to become better readers.  If a child can rhyme cat and bat, they will quickly become capable of linking sat, rat, hat, etc.  When they are eventually exposed to the written word (when you are reading aloud to your child), they will begin to recognize that they all end with the same letters.

Focused listening: How did you learn to read?  The very first steps were hearing sounds in utero.  After birth, you heard people speaking to you, to which you responded with some form of babble.  The auditory preceded the oral which preceded the written.  In order to achieve these steps, it is very important that children learn to differentiate between sounds called phonemes.  An example would be to recognize that map and moon both begin with the same sound.  It would also apply to ending sounds that rhyme.  The ability to identify and distinguish between phonemes is auditory not linked to the written word. Phonemic awareness is not phonics (Here is a good article – http://reading.uoregon.edu/big_ideas/pa/pa_what.php- with more in-depth information than I can give you here.)

Tone: Do you ever speak with your children about tone of voice?  Where do they learn about that? Of course, it is first from their caretakers.  Nursery rhymes are a great way to experiment with different tones of voice.  Try saying Humpty Dumpty in a high voice, a low voice, an angry voice, a happy voice, a witch’s voice or like a robot.  The children will love the silliness of it, you can bear repeating it many times, and they are learning about tone.

I hope this helps in helping you recite and read nursery rhymes with your kids!

Why don’t you twinkle while you diddle and fall off the wall!