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.
•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
•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!!!